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.
Sister Ashbrook and the Snow-Covered Boat in the Driveway