Saturday, December 29, 2012

hello!/Early email

We have permission to email early! I am in the process of writing you an email. We are getting transferred so our normal Pday will be crazy with flying and going to our new area.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve!

Um, so I don't even know what we did this week! What did we do this week? 

Oh my heck so Steven Marsh (Donna's son) just got home and he went to the post office and brought home all this mail for us. I got a Christmas card from the Nelsons, and Laura and Josh, and Grandma and Grandpa, and I got letters from two returned sister missionaries who served in Orange County, Sister Denney and Sister Cooper, and I am just so happy. 

MOM AND DAD! MY HECK! Thanks for the camera!!! I already totally opened it. And the case! And the memory card! It is a sassy foxy red. I love it. I love all of you! Merry Christmas! I love taking pictures! Oh my heck!
So, we showed up at Puerto Rican Mommy's house yesterday and her pipes had froze. She was outside with her brother, cutting off the insulation. The water pipes are on the outside of the trailer house, and so we were pulling sopping wet insulation off and throwing it into the snow. The copper pipes had cracked in several places and leaked water when the water was on. They left to buy more pipe and my comp and I graciously accepted the assignment of cutting out the wet patches of insulation so they could preserve as much as they could, becuase new insulation in great amounts is hard to come by in a small island town like this. We called the elders quorum pres while Puerto Rican Mommy and Puerto Rican Brother of Mommy were gone, and the E.Q. President went and met them at the hardware store and bought the right pipe (not copper, cuz copper would just freeze and crack again, it was some plastic or something, pex or plex or I dunno, it's blue, this would freeze but NOT crack) and they all came back together and he had all the right tools and he put up the new pipe in about five miinutes and then took off and we just had to put insulation on it all over again. It was fun. We were glad we showed up when we did. Then we had to be at a dinner appt in a little bit so we wanted to read from the Book of Mormon with Puerto Rican Mommy but she um, haha, hates reading and so we said what about a MOVIE? And she said, I'll make the popcorn. We went out to our car and guess what we found, Mr. Kreuger's Christmas. So we watched that with her, and it was a great Christmas message. 

Two caroling adventures---first was with the young womens. Pres Marsh (AKA Kirt) hooked up his skiff (that had snow and ice packed in it and had to be dug out from the side of the house) to his truck and the girls and the leaders and US piled inside the boat and he drove all around town and we caroled to certain awesome people and to anyone we saw walking on the street. SECOND, was Saturday night with our branch mission leader and a few other people, and we caroled to the MAYOR and people like THAT, and they mayor's wife gave us a Norwegian treat, called Krum kaka. It looks like an ice cream cone. You must remember Petersburg was like, founded by Norwegians and there's lots of heritage. 


Pronounced yule-a-bukking. The shopkeepers put out free food and drinks and the whole town mills around eating and greeting and being merry christmas and all that. Yesterday, we had the weirdest thing of all. Spika chik. It might be native, not Norwegian. Okay so we walked in and they had two great punch bowls of "moose milk" (it was just eggnog with nutmeg, WITH BOOZE and NO BOOZE...they gave us NO BOOZE, I told them they had BETTER cuz um excuse me WE ARE MISSIONARIES, they laughed, we have a good repoir in this town). And in front of the bowls of moose milk were um, two DEER legs. They had been cured with salt. Did I say that right? I dunno, packed with salt, and the salt is what cooked them. So, it looked like dark reddish fibrous meat still on the bone, oh my heck, we used a knife and cut us each out a piece and we were late to our 3pm dinner (the FIRST one we had on Sunday, we had a second one at 5 pm with nonmembers, we almost died of hugeness) and so we walked briskly through the 12 degrees frigidness back to our car chewing spik a chik and it was DISGUSTING it tasted like salty, bloody raw meat. Sister HATFIELD spat hers out, but I totes downed it and swallowed nearly all my moose milk. OM NOM NOM. Fun adventures. We also went julebaching at Lee's clothing (the spik a chik was at a pretty lil shop called wild celery) and got pickled herring and lefsa....norwegian stuff. Lefsa is this soft bready cinnamon thing. 

I MUST GO I LOVE You! We gotta go carol to the old people with the Oxford Carolers!


Monday, December 17, 2012

End of my ninth transfer is coming up yall

Hi yall.

Kay so we came back from Wrangell on the ferry on Tuesday night, we did weekly planning during the 3-hour journey and attempted a few puzzles. It was lovely to come back to Petersburg; it feels like home.
This week was a Spunky Woman week. I dunno if I ever really talked about the Spunky Woman, or if I even have called her Spunky WOman before, maybe feisty woman, I dunno. She's a firecracker. 72 years old, widow, been taught for 2 years, stubborn as an ox. Her husband died this time of year a few years ago and the timing has seemed to be perfect. She heart is softened a lil bit, she is more teachable than ever, all we want for her to do is go to the temple a year from her baptism and be married to her husband for time and eternity because she just misses him, she has such a broken heart, I have rarely seen such devotion before. So we've been talking about temples a bit and showed her this temple Mormon Message (3minute video clip) and we were so excited, turned to her, you know, excitedly asked her, "What did you think?" And this is SO her, she spat, "Money. All i see is MONEY. Why do they have to make them all so FANCY?" Luckily the awesome member we had with us bore testimony of Solomon's temple and how they used the finest cedar and all that stuff because, when you build a house for the Lord, you offer him your best. She understood by the end of the lesson.
She has NOT prayed about being baptized yet, she is not ready yet. Her admitting that was huge. We had two amazing lessons with her two days in a row. We realized she could totally be baptized, if she came to church just twice, she could maybe be baptized the last Saturday of the transfer. We called her Saturday night and begged her to come to church and she finally said FINE and we screamed and giggled and she likely said something dry and sarcastic and we hung up with her and we screamed and high-fived.
Church was crazy, though, we had been asked to play the piano a lot in primary and we were running around like we'd got our heads cut off and after church we called her to see how everything had gone, and we were devastated to hear her complain about the distraction of all the children, they run around and interrupt and slam doors and stomp their feet (and in such a tiny church building it is kinda unnoticeable) and she said she felt so incredibily out of place, no one had introduced her at the beginning of any of the meetings. She knows a lot of the people already she said, but there were plenty of people who she didn't know, and she was never introduced. She said, "I left church with a BAD taste in my mouth." We felt horrible, if we had just sat with her we would have introduced her, I had even thought of sitting with her at the beginning of relief society and introducing her to the class, and it is just WEIRD that no one welcomed the visitors, cuz there had been a baptism for an 8-year-old the night before and his grandparents were there visiting as well.
WEll, we were just so disappointed. We have a lesson with her in a coupla days, and we are hoping to help her realize the people aren't perfect but the church is still true, and also we wanna try and help her remember the good things that happened at church. Hopefully we will see good things to happen with her. We love her so very much.
Puerto Rican Mommy did NOT come to church either, but her kids and husband are outta town and they took HER car on the ferry so she has her hubby's truck and it's stick shift and there was lots of snow and she was nervous. But we also totally know her, she's a total home-body and always prefer to stay cuddled up in her house, ahhaha. Luckily since her fam is outta town, she told us we can come over every day if we want to. Hahah. WE WILL! We showed her all the "I'm a Mormon" videos on that highlight the lives of Puerto Rican people. And we showed her the Christmas bible video nativity thing.
Last night our members whom we live with had about twenty people over for a sing-along, most were non-members, and we had been recruited to play piano and lead the sing-along. We had helped Donna on Friday make all the dips, too. Delicious stuff. Smoked salmon dip and home-made hummus. OM NOM. So that was cool to do, we just laughed and joked around and sang and hopefully all the people felt comfortable with two mormon missionaries hanging out with them all. Not that we were hanging out. Haha.
Well, tonight is the Petersburg Community Christmas Concert and we have two acts, and we are also singing with the Oxford Carolers. It will be at the LUtheran church, man that church has a beautiful stained glass window of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. My heck. Our first number will be me on the piano and Sister Hatfield singin with a ten-yr-old gal in the branch. It will be precious. One of those Silent Night mash-ups with another melody the composer wrote, there are like a billion of those. Real pretty. Our second number we asked a non-member from tthe Oxford Carolers to play for us, but it's an SSA arrangement (3 female voices) and we said if she could find another pianist she should sing WITH us. Well we got back from Wrangell and she did find a pianist, and lo and behold the woman she'd asked to play for us is a less active member of the Church who told ME on the phone months ago that she was not interested in meeting with us. So, it was awesome to go to her house and have a rehearsal there, not threatening or anything, we were just practicing music, and the woman seemed very comfortable (I have met her before, me and Sister Hatfield were doing service at a community race and this woman came up to get her number to pin on her shirt and when she saw our nametags her smile faded and I was like, 'Wow, I don't know if that woman likes us' and then found out who she was and I wondered yeah, maybe she DOESN'T like us, but I am glad we've been able to get to know her in a different setting and maybe one day she will allow missionaries to teach her).
WELL I am so glad to be a missionary, I love the Lord, I am so happy to be serving Him. I am nervous to find out about transfers but I know whatever happens is supposed to happen. I love you all. Merry Christmas. Remember the Savior.

Sister Ashbrook

Monday, December 10, 2012

Public Library in Wrangell

Melissa wrote this email in several volumes. Here ya go. -Anne

Hi family!

Um, I must confess I have not given much thought (yet) to skyping on Christmas, hopefully we can do it around noon so that Lily can be there, that would be lovely.

I came to the library with my glasses case but my glasses aren't IN there and so I've ctrl + a lot of times to make the email big and I'm trying not to strain my eyes. Haha.

So! Christmas. Ah, heck. I don't know. I probably don't need anything, I am gonna have to send a lot of stuff home and to Anchorage to make sure my luggage won't be too heavy for the flight back to Anchorage (we're both 95% sure we're leaving Petersburg after this transfer) (transfer ends on Dec 30th) so the less stuff I have, the better. If you want to wait and send me stuff after New Year's, you could even do that. Or just send small stuff. What I WOULD like is a new camera, since I broke the one the Budingers gave me. THe patriarch in my last area gave me a camera, but it's not my favorite, the pictures are not as bright or colorful and the screen is tiny, and it's a Canon, and the memory cards I already have don't work in it cuz they're not Canon and apparently Canons are Nazis, kinda like Apple. One day I can buy myself a real nice camera. I don't know though, if I am being too materialistic, you could also buy me a new Canon memory card cuz the one I DO have is full. It's just not my favorite camera though so I don't intend on keeping it after the mish.


I really don't need anything. I sent Lily a bit of a Christmas list, but I don't remember what I said.

Currently eating a mento. It's the rainbow packaged kind.

Well, we've had an eventful week so far. On Monday we took half a p-day, we got our emails done, I actually don't remember anything we did that day. On Tuesday, we flew to Juneau.

Pineapple-flavored mento.

We didn't know if we'd make it to Juneau, the weather was pretty grey, but the pilot of the jet must have been braver than the last time I tried to leave Petersburg, and Donna was driving us to the airport, and we were talking about what we'd do if the plane didn't come, and we turned a corner, "And--there's the jet." We could see the tail of the jet over the roof of the airport up ahead. Yay. Flew to Juneau, the zone leaders picked us up, everyone from the Juneau zone who was already there (AKA, who weren't still on the ferry on their way) went to a pizza place called Bulwinkles and we ate thin saucy cheap pizza. Hhahaa. Then the zone leaders and the Spanish elders gave us a list of sisters we could go visit and we got a car from somebody and went off working in Juneau. We caroled that night with the whole zone, some neat experiences, Spirit is so strong when about twelve or fourteen missionaries are singing carols of the Savior's birth on a doorstep.

Wednesday was a "zone p-day." We went to Costco cuz Sister Beesley wants everyone to be able to buy cheap food in bulk if they want to . I did NOT want to cuz I wasn't sure if we'd be staying in Petersburg and the last thing I wanted was more weight in my suitcase, when I left the day before my suitcase weighed 47 pounds....we'd packed for Juneau AND Wrangell so that's our excuse. At least I was wearing my awesome Cate the Great snow boots.

For our zone p-day activity we um, walked to the glacier. Across a huge frozen lake. In the snow. We started about, oh I dunno, 1 or 2. Or 3? I dunno. But Elder Martinez (zone leader) was getting nervous cuz he said we'd be losing light (remember Alaska gets less light in the winter, even in the south-east). OH MY HECK. Maybe it's cuz I had the flu on Friday (I threw UP! we stayed in all that day and sewed quilt blocks for Tiny Lil Thing and watched every DVD in the apartment and Pres Beesley gave us permission to watch The Best Two Years) but I was SO TIRED. It's hard to march through the snow. I dunno how the pioneers did it. The glacier was beautiful, a huge mass of bluish snow-covered ice, but it never seemed to get closer. But we made it and took some pictures in the fading light and headed back, all the while I was thinking, "My heck, the elders didn't TELL us it would be such a long trek, we have no water, we have no flashlights, we have no granola bars..." Hhaha. All in all, it took a few hours, and we were back when it was just about pitch black. Oh, the scariest part was as we got closer to the glacier, the "ground" turned slushy. Sometimes we were splashing through water. People who didn't have waterproof boots got a whole lot colder. But don't worry, several elders told me that's just what happens on top of ice, and it was only worrisome if we like, heard a CRACK or something. So, none of us fell through, and we all survived, some people were just a lil sore the next day.

Dinner, served by one of the Juneau wards. Then we got to have district meeting for the first time with our district in PERSON.

Oh, hey, I might have to finish this email later today cuz like, there's people here and we're only supposed to go til 11 cuz there are like, these time slots. Sigh.


Sister Ashbrook

-10:19 PM-
Hi I'm working on the rest of the email now! I love all of you!

-10:25 PM-
Seriously, guys. I don't need anything for Christmas. I just love you all. So for skyping on Christmas, hopefully I'll be able to do noon, Sister hatfield has a sister on a mission so she has to figure out when SHE is gonna be skyping the family too so we gotta coordinate and stuff. Hah. Okay so what was the last thing I said?

-11:04 PM-
Oh by the way, I have permission from President Beesley to be finishing my email this late. We are both doing our emails, here at the Bunesses' in Wrangell where we have been staying.

SO IN JUNEAU. Distritc meeting in Juneau, we learned about object lessons. My favorite one by far was one from Elder Gardner who's currently serving up in Whitehorse (Yukon AKA Canada, my dream place to serve BECAUSE i want to use my passport on my mission). SO, he took a whatever-you-call-it pin, a flat pin, a straight pin? WHatever it doesn't have a hole that you thread through, it has a tiny flat top, you get the skiniest smallest kind, and you put the tip on wood (he did it on the floor of the stage, where we were oddly enough having our district meeting in the juneau stake center) or you can do a wooden table, and you lightly hammer in the pin, he used the side of a knife. Ha. Then you teach faith. He told everyone he would slam his hand down over the top of the pin, and he did, he hit the floor with a loud bang and we all gasped and he showed us his hand, there was no mark, and the pin had bent almost in half. He asked us who wants to try. I raised my hand immediately. He told me I had to stretch my palm flat, it's just a matter of physics, the tautness of your skin and the speed that you hit the pin doesn't allow it to penetrate. If we lose FAITH, however, we falter, our hand closes a little, and then it's a disaster. I was totally fine til OTHER people started being scared and teling me to be careful but I just did it, I just slammed my hand over the pin and it was awesome. I had faith. Yay!

Next day was zone conference. My favorite was the relay race, all of a sudden one companionship at a time was being led into the gym and one comp had to be on stage and one was blindfolded. There are three districts in the zone, so one companionship from each district had to do the whole "listen to my voice and follow my directions so you can get through the maze of tables and chairs while you're blindfolded." Without us even knowing what was going on, a lil bit later we were back in the gym and everyone was there and the next companionship in each district was being instructed on how they were gonna do a three-legged race to the basketball hoop and make three baskets and when they got back, the LAST companionship, Sister Hat and I being included, would have to do a dirty deed and eat muk tuk, curently on a plate underneath a paper towel waiting for us. Muk tuk is whale blubber with the whale skin attached. Natives eat it like candy. Yeah. Well, whoever was fastest in the blindfoldy maze thing got a ten-second head start. By the time our district finished shootin hoops and we had to eat muk tuk, everyone was screaming and telling all of us that had to do it just to swallow it, but I couldn't ,I had to chew it, it was wonderful. I tiold myself it tasted like sushi and finished it up.

THe last thing was running to a room in the church where one of the senior couples would be welcoming us into their "homes" and we would role play teaching them about the book of mormon and stuff.

Oh my heck TIME OUT Sister Buness just came over to us where we are both sitting cross legged next to each other typing away on their laptops in the living room, she siad she had herbal tea and some treats for us, isn't she amazing? She made these walnut-coconut-rice krispy-date things rolled in powdered sugar. OM NOM NOM.

One of the senior couples, Elder Waldron, did an awesome traingin on using the book of mormon, on making sure that the people we teach KNOW that we are NOT ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He told us a story from his mission of teaching Native Americans on his mission and telling a shaman the story of the book of mormon and the shaman got upset and asked him, "how do you know the stories of our people?" Elder Waldron said he was able to teach what he did becuase he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

My interview with president beesley was lovely, he asked me and sister hatfield to let him know if elders would do good in Petersburg, he asked me where I wanted to serve next. He's just great. I had a great talk with sister Beesley while Sis H was in HER interview. SIster beesley and I just laugh and laugh and we always talk for way too long and I just love her. I was talking about how sometimes it's hard to get to bed RIGHT at 10:30, sometimes it's 10:31, and it's hard to get outta dinners at an hour. She siad, "Yeah, maybe you get distracted?" And I said, "Oh yeah, sure, like with people talking and teling story after story," and she said, "No, I mean with all your thoughts? You always seem to have a million thoughts going through your head..." I laughed in surprise as I realized she was right, "Yeah I do have a million thoughts going through my head," and she said, "From the moment I met you i could tell that you had so much going on in your head, in fact sometimes I just think, Wow, wouldn't it be fun to just sit and listen for an hour or two to Sister Ashbrook's brain?" And by this time I am CRACKING UP, you have to know I delight in people telling me how I "am," and I love love love her, and it was just so funny. She said, "LIke, what would happen if I just said 'frogs'?" HAHAHA I told her that my nephew's "animal" is frog and when he was born me and my sister went down to the hospital gift shop and bought a frog.... and Sister Beesley was laughing so hard and she said, "SEE?!" HAHAHAH we are good friends.

SO THEN we flew from Juneau to Wrangell. That day, our branch mission leader called the branch president in Wrangell and good thing cuz they thought we were coming in the NEXT day, which USED to be the case, and we neglected to tell them that the plans changed, whoops.

We were going to Wrangell cuz the work is slow there right now and there are no misionaries so we went to teach their investigators. Wrangell is on a different island than Petersburg, and the town is smaller. We were gonna live in the church, like the elders have been doing, but Pres Bringhurst (our branch mission leader) got the Bunesses to let us stay with them (and now I know why---the church is not the most lovely place to live, their room was very small, two mattresses right next to each other, the shower is in the boy;s bathroom, it would have been cramped and difficult to move all my stuff from bathroom to room every day. ALSO many people have keys to the church).

Sisters have never served in Wrangell before. Everyone has been so extremely nice and welcoming. I think if we stayed here a month the novelty would be worn off. We've been given cupcakes and fudge and love.

The elders left the car here, it's a Suburu.

There was lots of snow when we came here....but it's been raining for the past coupla days and now the world is full of slush and puddles and ugliness. I think snow is so pretty.

FAMILY---I just want you to know I love you all. I love hearing from you. I appreciate all you do. Anne, I appreciate that you do my blog. Lily, I appreciate all your letters, even when I can't write back. Last p-day, I was in Juneau and the only letter I wrote was one to Lori --- SHE AND CHAD ARE EXPECTIN THEIR FIRST BABY --- and it took me all day to write, off and on, and I haven't even mailed it yet, and THIS p-day we didn't HAVE a p-day but we SHOULD get permission to take one on Wednesday when we get back to Petersburg. Daddy, I appreciate your weekly emails and I appreciate all the missionary work you do, working with elders. Mommy, I love you and your weekly emails. I am glad you are getting your energy back. I pray for you often.

WELL, much love and kisses. I know the gospel is true, I know that as we don't let our fears get in the way, and we boldly go after those who are lost ,the Lord will help us and will open doors for us, the Spirit will be there to warm us up and comfort us.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Card Sent to Mom & Dad

Melissa sent a Christmas card home to Mom & Dad with a picture of some kind of animal (Mom, can you remind me?) and this is what she wrote inside.

Dearest Parentals,
It 's CLEARLY time to send Christmas cards. I bought these at the Michaels in Anchorage when I was at transfers. This is the first Christmas card I'm sending out. Hey yeah so sorry I didn't get my weekly email out. You can ask Anne to type all this into the blog. You can promise her blessings. That's what we do as missionaries. The computer at the church doesn't work so we were at our branch mission leader's house and I read all my emails but then we had to take our car in to get studded tires on (even though the snow's all gone cuz it warmed up to 40 F and we had rain) and we were gonna finish our emails at the Hayes' house, maybe, that was one plan, cuz she was gonna take our peektures cuz she's a photographer, but our CAR took SO LONG and we were waiting at another member's house close to the car place, writing letters, while she made us awesome quesadillas, and then it was 3 pm and it was way foggy and it's Alaska so that means we ran outta light, so no peektures, so no email. So we went to the Library where they only allow you 30 min but that's all we needed but two squirrely teenage boys were on the only two computers (just kidding, they are precious sons of God), and we decided we'd just write handwritten letters home. Cuz we don't get irritated, cuz we have patience, cuz we're missionaries.
But I just love you. This week was good. We met with Puerto Rican Mommy and Puerto Rican Daddy. It was a good lesson; we taught the Atonement. Puerto Rican Mommy thinks that even if the Atonement wipes away our sins like wiping away a stain, it won't really wipe it all the way away. I so want her to be baptized so she can feel as clean as she was the day she was born. We talk about baptism like, every lesson, but she hasn't committed yet.
Okay, so La Mujer de Calisco has a daughter, she works at the hospital and the grocery store, and I will call her La Mujer's Daughter. La Mujer's Daughter has a daughter, I will call her Mexican Mommy - she actually has the same first name as Puerto Rican Mommy (in real life). Mexican Mommy has four kids and two of them were invited to church by some kids in the branch. One of them, I will call him Mr. 10 Years Old, has been learning about and reading stories from the B of M for two years with two of the boys in the branch, and I guess he really liked church and wants to get baptized and so that is cool. So, the mother of this fam who brought him to church called us and said she'd never really taken Mr. 10 Years Old seriously before but now she feels we should do something about this and we gladly agreed and are excited to start teaching this boy and HOPEFULLY we'll have a baptism soon. Mexican Mommy is very nice, Sister Pete and I actually OYM'd her (street contacted her) one day, and La Mujer de Calisco we OYM'd on a separate occasion and helped her carry her groceries to her house, and that family likes us, so hopefully they will let us teach Mr. 10 Years Old.
Well, I love you all.
Sister Ashbrook

Monday, December 3, 2012


Um, I ran out of time to do a big email last week, sorry about that, I sent Mom and Dad a handwritten letter instead, I just um, didn't TELL you in an email before I did that. I thought you would have gotten it already, sigh, you'll probably get it today. What happened was, the church computer is not working, so we have to do emails at a member's home, but we can only do that if the members are present. Anyway, we were doing emails and then our appointment to get our snow tires was coming up and we had all these plans to get back to a computer and finish emails but the rest of the day was insane and busy and the tires took two hours and the oxford carolers rehearsal was at 5 and we didn't know who to ask to go over to their house and it was afternoon so lots of families would have their crazy kids home from school and we got home in time for us to eat a quick, late lunch and write some letters. Our members were in Hawaii, but they are back today, so we are on their computers.

So that was sad. I thought about you lots and lots this week.

Oxford carolers! A way for us to get out into the community and be involved. Our branch mission leader and his wife are involved in it and so they told us about it. A group of people get together every Monday at 5 and practice Oxford Christmas carols, like, old English Christmas songs, like the Holly and the Ivy, but at turbo speed. Sister H brought up recently that we are the youngest people there. I laughed and realized she was right.

On Saturday we performed at the library to open up the Holiday Literary. I didn't even know what a literary was, but they do readings and stuff. The three songs the Carolers did were "Welcome to Our Savior," "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (the traditional English tune, not the one you're familiar with), and "Gloucestershire Wassail" or whatever it's called.

On Sunday we performed at the museum open house. Every Wednesday since I've been in Petersburg, we've gone to the museum on Wednesday mornings and done service there. We scan in film negatives and catalog them in this archiving software stuff. The museum curator is HILARIOUS and we sit there and LAUGH our heads off. She barely gets any work done. It was fun to come perform at her open house. I bet she had to "like, act professional, such a bummer" in front of all those people--that's something she would say, I swear.

The Oxford Carolers sang several different songs. Just very brisk, very lively music, we gotta spit out dem words. It's been very fun to be involved. The seventh-day adventist minister is in it. Half the people are Lutheran. The presbyterian minister's wife is in it. We practice in the presbyterian church. Most of them have been super super warm towards us, we never felt awkward practicing with them. President Beesley was all for the idea.

Sister H and I also performed at the museum open house, we took the 2:15 slot. It helps to get your own slot when you do service at the museum every wednesday. We sang "Silent Night," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," "Away in a Manger," and "What Child Is This." Doc Lopez, a man in our branch, accompanied us on the guitar. We love Doc. He works for the police department and so is very well-known in the community, and I think that added to the people at the museum staying and listening to us, because they knew Doc, whereas they didn't know us, or they might not trust us, and we're weird cuz we wear name tags. Doc is hilarious, he's Mexican and has a mustache that he twists out, and he came to the museum holding his guitar case with a black cowboy hat, decorated with the spine of a rattlesnake. Hahahaha. He also performed "I'll Be Home For Christmas" by himself, it was lovely.

We were gonna plan a fireside for the community, something Pres Beesley wanted us to do, but our branch mission leader thought it'd be better to work through a community talent show that is already mostly in place, it takes place at the Lutheran church and the Oxford Carolers perform in it. This is because they doubted there would be a big turn out if WE threw something---we're Mormon AND we're newcomers. Small towns are hard to dig your heels into. BUT, we found out the person who usually organizes it was outta town and so Sister Bringhurst, the branch mission leader's WIFE (she's a fire cracker), said, "Well, I will just organize it myself, except I'm going to Utah for a week and a half." So she got the ball rolling, had her husband, who used to be the CEO of the hospital til he retired and so HE has LOTS of credibility in the community, delegate it to someone else, and this woman took on the task gladly. President Bringhurst, who's the branch mission leader, scheduled a day at the Lutheran church and it is a go. They announced, in the next Oxford Carolers rehearsal, that the talent show would still be put on this year even though So-and-So was out of town, would everybody be in town to perform again?

Hahha. I am so excited. I'm so grateful to the Bringhursts for working so hard behind the scenes to get this thing to happen, just so that two sister missionaries can sing and play for the community. I love Christmas!

At the manor, the old people home, are apartments that senior citizens can rent independently. One of these lovely older ladies, who is presbyterian and not interested in joining but loooves our spiritual thoughts and visits, told us that we are becoming to be known as Helpers in the community, and less and less as people who go door to door and shove religion down people's throats. Which is cool, I guess. It has been hard sometimes, trying to find the line between a lot of community service and involvement and proselyting (going door to door, teaching, walking around and talking to people about the gospel, etc). Our numbers a couple of weeks ago were pretty low, meaning we had less lessons. We have been trying to find a balance, all the while not knowing if anything we're doing has any effect. So it was good to hear this sweet elderly lady say that.

Then we sang A Child's Prayer and made her cry, so I felt bad. Haha, actually, she thanked us a lot, she told us there were issues going on in her family that day and she said she didn't know how we knew she needed that, but needed it she did.

Anyway, so if we can help Petersburg view missionaries and thus, the church, as people who help and who are sincere and loving towards everybody regardless of religion or whatever, we want to keep doing that.


We had a great lesson with an investigator on Saturday. He has one leg. I will call him One-Legged Dad. (He has one son.) We've never met with him except on his porch. He gets uncomfortable around people and so we found out who in the branch he knows and asked if we could come teach him with this certain person. A couple of months ago, he told us to pretty much stop teaching him becuase it wasn't worth our time, there were too many bad things in the world and he could not muster up any belief in Christ. So, we came to his house last Saturday morning and watched "Finding Faith in Christ" and talked about it after. The member we brought with us bore the most beautiful, strong testimony of how we gain faith. She told a story of witnesses. She said, "What if someone came to me and said, 'This big thing, the size of this apartment, fell outta the sky and landed on main street, sat there for a minute, and then took off toward the sky.' I'd say, 'You're crazy, what are you smoking?' Then, what if someone ELSE came and said the same story, 'Hey did you see that thing come outta the sky?' " She narrowed her eyes and said, "I would say, 'I heard that story somewhere else. This is getting weird.' But what if I go outside and dozens and dozens of people are talking about this thing that came out of the sky. I'd start thinking, 'Hey, this actually could have happened. You know, I wasn't there, I didn't see it, but I am starting to believe it's true.' And then you know what I would do? I would take it the Lord, and get on my knees, and pray, and ask Him if it was true." It was so powerful and One-Legged Dad thanked her sincerely and said that was the first time it had ever made sense to him. The Spirit was so strong. I love teaching the gospel. I didn't even do any of that teaching. I just love being there when it's happening.

We had a lesson the same day with Puerto Rican Mommy. It was very different from One-Legged Dad. Not because of her, but because of her SON. The 13-year-old, who feels the need to interrupt and disrupt us every five seconds. He plays video games on his computer and refuses to turn the sound off. The TV was on but it was muted, but still distracting. We had already bosses 13-year-old Puerto Rican Boy a lot and how many more times can we say "please turn this off, please turn this down, please just FIX ALL YOUR DISTRACTIONS." Every three seconds the boy would say, "Spaghetti." NON STOP. Even if we ignored him. Even if I threatened to beat him up (we have a pretty good relationship, but that doesn't mean he wants to help us have a spiritual lesson). Puerto Rican Dad came home toward the end of the lesson and he got his son to pray, though. The father is the one that sets the law, apparently.

But then on Sunday Puerto Rican mommy didn't come to church. She hadn't felt real great the night before so maybe she got sick. Or maybe since it keeps snowing EVERY NIGHT she got worried about the roads, she doesn't have 4-wheel drive or studded tires, so that's understandable. I just really really really wish that she would just get baptized, but I know things must happen in her time. I want so badly for her to know that this is all true. She's so close.


THIS WEEK: We fly to Juneau on Tuesday (if the plane can come in, or take off, or whatever. Pray it stops snowing!) Zone conference is Thursday. We fly from Juneau to Wrangell on Friday. We ferry back to Petersburg on Tuesday.

Wrangell is already gonna be doing a Christmas sing-along in the branch and so they invited us, when we come, to help with that. So, we won't be throwing together a whole Christmas program, but working with what's already in place, something we are quite grateful for. We are quite busy. UNFORTUNATELY, Wrangell's Christmas thing is not till the 22nd of December....

So they want us to come TWICE!

The missionaries were teaching 3 sisters, one is close to baptism. THIS Wrangell trip is to get to know the town and teach these women and do lots of missionary work there. We are trying to plan a trip for the 22nd to get to Wrangell and help with their Christmas program. Today we're going to visit Pac Wing (Pacific Wing) which is a charter company and see if there is a plane that can charter us the morning of the 22nd to Wrangell. BECAUSE, our OWN branch's Christmas dinner is the evening of the 21st!!! And Sister Hatfield and I are apparently directing that. AND, the 23rd is the Sunday before Christmas. And the husband-and-wife speakers planned to speak in OUR branch that day want us to sing! So we need to be in Petersburg the 21st, Wrangell the 22nd, and back to Petersburg the 23rd. Travel options: commercial jet, ferry, charter plane IF president beesley gives permission. I already asked President Marsh (the branch president) that if we have to commercial jet in on Sunday morning (the 23rd) could we start church at 11 instead of 10? He said yes (cuz the plane comes in every morning at the same time, and that's like 10:30 or something). I thought that was hilarious.

AND we are helping Tiny Lil Thing, the elderly less-active woman who lives in Long Term Care at the hospital, finish a quilt.

(By the way, transfers take place around new year's day. We don't know if we're staying longer than that.)

Tiny Lil Thing was an avid quilter in her day. She has these quilt blocks, muslin with butterflies appliqued on, some are dutch dolls, in a bag in her closet. She's been "working" on this quilt for about two or three years. She can't stitch anymore (she hand stitches, like, everything) cuz she gets too shaky. Apparently she used to be busy as a bumble bee and it about kills her that all she can do every day is lay in bed. So, we decided we'd finish her quilt for her (if anybody's memory serves them well, I HATE QUILTING). As we're laying out quilt blocks all over her bed one day, decided what color embroidery floss to buy, Tiny Lil Thing told us this quilt would be for US. We were so touched! We asked her if we could make two smaller quilts instead of one big one, so we wouldn't fight over it, and she said we could do whatever we want.


So I've been learning the blanket stitch. Okay I love you all! I love being a missionary! I love petersburg, we are in our own lil world down here! One day I'll be transferred and I'll be like "HOLY COW HOW DO I DO THIS" because it is just so different down here.

The gospel is true! I know the Savior lives! Did you just love the first presidency devotional yesterday? They taught us how to receive good gifts, including gifts from God. They taught us how to give good gifts, as does our God. And they taught us the real gift, which is God.

Love you,
Sister Ashbrook and the Snow-Covered Boat in the Driveway