Hi. Other than the fact that we're having a pathetic winter compared to last winter, I'm doing great! It's about 45 degrees today and in Eagle River there is barely any snow. A lot of places along the highway into Anchorage today to do emails I saw signs of flooding. Everything is melted. Different than last winter. Last January, for most of the month it was like -15 degrees and there were record snow falls. Every day we'd hafta clear off the car.
Church was CANCELLED yesterday due to the road conditions. When everything melts, there is water on top of ice. So many cars in the ditch. A pick-up truck driving in front of us as we were coming home from Chugiak Saturday was sliding from side to side. We went like 5mph. I've never had church cancelled on me before. We told Pres Beesley. Our whole stake was cancelled so that morning Pres Beesley texted all of us and said if your church has been cancelled, stay in til noon until further notice. I spent my time reading Deuteronomy. Then Sister Claspell and I started talking about BYU-Idaho and her hilarious (and horrifying?) roommate experiences there. Hahaha. (Cuz weirdly enough I am, like, having to start thinking about, like, SCHOOL nowadays, and how I'll probly hafta start applying ON my mission, and everyone is hinting I should go to BYU-Idaho. Like everyone. I told Pres Beesley this during my interview with him in Juneau last December and he said, "It's a good school. There are a few reasons why you might want to go there. One, Sister Beesley and I will be living in Rexburg and you could come visit us." I said, "DONE.")
I bought new pens last Monday and have been enjoying them immensely, cuz Mom, I have used the gel pens you got me and have used up almost all the INK! I am crazy about colored pens. You should see my planners. It's like a rainbow exploded.
Our district volunteers at the Nature Center located at the end of Eagle River Rd. I don't really know what the nature center does. It reminds me of working on the musk ox farm. There's a building with rooms full of wild life exhibit things, like rubber moldings of bear stool and wolf stool and stuff, and animal hides that you can pet, and maps, and info, and a sitting area, and hot chocolate, and we get hot chocolate after we're all done. We do lots of outside work. Anything I guess that needs to be done. We hauled wood on Wednesday, there is this guy, Gus, and he had a chain saw and was cutting up a whole bunch of fallen trees. We were out probably a five or ten min walk from the actual nature center. We carried the logs up to the path and stacked them. By carried I mean the elders threw them by intervals. I am terrified of flying objects so I was up near the path, grabbing the logs and stacking them. Then we went deeper along the paths and Gus sent Sis Claspell and I to find some logs that, um, had been laying there for 3 years, what the heck, hahaa, he was like, "3 years ago I cut up some logs, there's a pink ribbon tied around one of the trees and if you turn right you should see them." Well, we saw them but the majority were frozen to the ground and we did a lot of kicking and dislodged about half of them. Fun times. I hope I lost like a pound or something.
So, I love the Beach Lake Ward. This ward is amazing---they do a lot of work with less actives without us even there. They are good at wanting to communicate. I am quite impressed.
I still have not met any of the investigators save the Dog Trainer Woman that I met my first day here when Sister Rivera was still here. The Dog Trainer Woman works a lot and is busy with school, but Sis Claspell says she's sincere and really will let us know when she has some free time. There's a senior couple (missionaries as well, just married, and a bit older than us) over the Arctic Valley ward, which is the military ward, cuz there are 2 military bases close by. They are military relations missionaries and not allowed to proselyte so they bring in other missionaries, like us, to teach their investigators and get us on base. The Beach Lake sisters before I got here were teaching a young newly wed wife, I will call her Mrs. Military or something. She wants to meet me but is also way busy with online classes so we haven't been able to set up a lesson. There is another investigator, she's 14 and is the daughter of a recent convert, but she has a few behavioral problems and is in a place in Anchorage. Hard to contact her, but apparently we can call her, and my name just got put on the list so we'll be able to do that. There is a family that sounds quite interesting, they have, in the past, sent someone running outside when the missionaries pull up. "No one's home," they call, and run back inside. So, I will call them the No One's Home Family. We dropped by (apparently we have more success actually getting in that way?) with a member and we clearly saw them in the window as we walked up the driveway and we knocked but no one opened up. Sigh. So those are our investigators.
We went tracting on Sunday...
There is a lot of less active work here. We've met several in the past few days that Sister Claspell had never met. Really genuine, interesting people, and Sister Claspell said they were more open with us than they had been in the past, so the Spirit is softening hearts here. It might be easy to just do a whole bunch of less active work and forget about trying to find investigators so I'm gonna try and focus on finding people to teach more this week. I know tracting is not the best way, so I am hoping the ward will trust us enough to get us some awesome referrals but we will still tract and do all we can, we are thinking of planning an awesome musical fireside to invite people to. There are a lot of apartment buildings here and people are always in apartment building parking lots. Hahha.
There are frequent, hour-and-a-half Thursday trainings (instead of doing a big block of training every couple months of so the Beesleys break it up and have short trainings that are webcasted every Thursday, going along with how general authorities have visited the mission recently and encouraged us to teach short, SPirit-filled, more frequent lessons than a big long hour or two-hour long lesson once a week---people learn better with repetition, like practicing the piano). This Thursday, guess what? Sister Hatfield and I were asked by Sister Beesley to present "island training." HAHHA. We're gonna show up in Hawaiian clothes. Just kidding. She means for everyone out in the bush, like Petersburg. Even Nome and Bethel. Not physical islands, but definitely social islands. They're out in the middle of nowhere on frozen tundra in native villages, far from any other missionaries or shopping malls. We're gonna cover 3 things: 1, how to plan creatively, how to use our talents or whatever to find creative things to do on an island. 2, how to do a lot of service without forgetting to share the gospel of Jesus Christ along the way. And 3, how to remain faithful and obedient when we're supposedly unmonitored by other missionaries. Cuz really you're under a microscope--the branch of the church out there wants OBEDIENT missionaries and they are quick to call the mission president if they see anything amiss. It'll be fun to do this with Sister Hatfield, but I hope she has some good ideas cuz i have no idea what to do (hahaha). We're going on exchanges tomorrow! So I'll be in Anchorage tomorrow with her and her comp will be up here with Sis Claspell. I am so excited. I totally miss my singin sister (that's what people called us in Petersburg).
You have no idea how much I loved that place, and it just breaks my heart that I will not see them again very, very soon. Like, I'm not going back next week. Or the week after that. Or even in a few months.
I know, though, that the Lord can bless me with the same amount of love if not more for the people here. It's not my love, anyway, it's the pure love of Christ that comes through us as missionaries. We are not the light---we are the conduits of the light (that's from Elder Bednar).
KAY I LOVE YOU BYE
Sister Ashbrook and the orange watch