Thursday, January 24, 2013

Notes - Bush Training, Jan. 2013 as Transcribed by the Wonderful Mom

"Hi, Sister Ashbrook, and family - here are some notes of the mission training that Sisters Ashbrook and Hatfield taught and I listened to on the phone and taped, then transcribed with some parts missing; they did a wonderful job!" - Marie Ashbrook, the mom, my mom.

We will get started, thank you Sister Ashbrook for playing the piano, opening hymn Precious Savior, Elder Manua will give the opening prayer.  (Song, prayer)  Pres. Beesley, remarks, Sister Beesley, training plan, island training.  Sister Ashbrook and Sister Hatfield, Bethel, Nome, Barrow.

Sis Ashbrook - We are going to have an opening song we're going to do for you guys, -(song)- you guys are dancing, that's so cool, we missed it, Sis Beesley said we could start out fun and then work into serious, we're better at being fun than serious.
Sis Hatfield - Like Sis Beesley said, this is island training for bush missionaries, how we can work the best when we're on a tiny island or a remote place.
A - We want to start by giving our thoughts of Petersburg, the pictures are over here.  I was with Sis Peterson, did she leave? She's going to get it in two hours. I was with Sis Peterson and I remember getting off and getting to the airport, if you've served in Wrangell it's the same airport.  This man came up dressed, John Bringhurst and was there to meet us and I thought he was going to drive us and he was just there to meet us, and I thought what is this place, people are way nice, the airport is one room and so you have one room and everyone knows each other, Sis Peterson said that's our investigator, got our suitcases into his car and we followed him to his cabin that we were going to stay at and it's right on the water.  Do you have any pictures, this is the back view from the cabin, the area next to the cabin.  Oh, this is really rustic and untouched.  Here, there are electrical poles and wires on hills and mountains, and there it's so untouched and so wild.  Pres. Bringhurst said, sorry about the view, and I said, no, it's great and then I realized he was being sarcastic.  So my first impressions of this tiny little town, everyone is super nice and it's going to be amazing, I was a little overwhelmed but it was amazing.  Ever since then it's been fun to get to know everybody in Petersburg, your turn, Sis Hatfield.

H - I got off the airplane and it was the first sunny day in Petersburg in a long time, it's so sunny and beautiful and we're driving and all you can see is water and islands and mountains and big trees.  Trees there are huge.    A - huge and floppy pine trees and just beautiful.
H - And the houses are kind of a contrast to the trees, they're all on pilings and kind of very rundown, and I was like what am I getting myself into, and she said, oh, this is Main Street, and it's about as long as this chapel, and it was just very strange, very small.  What am I supposed to do here, what is my purpose in coming here, there are like five people outside and there's no one to talk to, but we made it work and it was great.  Pictures - most of these, the top is outside the post office, more views of Petersburg, very small.

H - What we are basing our training on is three segments, the first one is about planning, creative planning, the second is service, the third is being obedient.  We decided to pick a song because we're Sis Ashbrook and Sis Hatfield,, and that's what we do.   
A - um, excuse me, the Spirit totally inspired Sis Hatfield and she said, who don't we base this on I Have Work Enough To Do?
H - The first verse goes along with planning, the second verse service, the third verse goes along with obeying God.  I think as we all planned it we were all pretty sure, hey, this song, really I don't know, the Spirit.  We're going to sing each verse before each segment; as you internalize the words and the message, pay attention to how the Spirit teaches you.  We're going to talk about how we use music.  So we want you to feel the Spirit like you do whenever you hear music, and today as well.  We are going to sing, the words are up there if you want to read the words.  (song)

H - So the reason we love that first verse is because it talks about all my daily tasks fulfilling.  As for planning, who knows the missionary purpose?  Two, three in this whole room, that's awesome, it's in your handbook.  The missionary purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, and it talks about that in the first verse.  Purpose firm and willing; so we know our purpose, we are firm in our purpose, we know why we are sent to the areas we are sent to.  All my daily tasks fulfilling, ere the sun goes down.  We have all our tasks to do before the end of the day, and sometimes when you're in the bush or you're on an island you have to get creative with your plans because you don't have as much.
A - So the white handbook says on Page 8 to conduct yourself at all times so that everyone who sees you will recognize you as a representative of Jesus Christ, that is what you have to remember as you plan, and it's important to remember throughout the day as well, and then page 15 says, as you plan you have to be efficient with your time.  Time is one of the most precious resources Heavenly Father has given you, the period when you're able to serve the Lord with all your time and all your effort, in Petersburg, in Nome, in Bethel, in Barrow, Cordova, such an opportunity is a privilege, it's a privilege to be there.  I love Petersburg and I have a huge testimony that wherever you're sent, it's a privilege to be there.

H - We want to talk about some of the creative things that we did in Petersburg.  Sometimes we'd write thank you notes from our dinners from the night before.   A - That was Sis Gardner's and Sis Peterson's idea, I think.
H - Some of these we borrowed from others.  One time we decided to take one to a dinner and we decided we were going to doorbell the thank you card.  A - But it was snowy and icy so we couldn't run.
H - So Sis Ashbrook couldn't run, they opened the door and caught us, and she just laughed.
A - I don't know how to do this whole thing with a straight face; we went to the hospital A LOT, we had a less-active there and so we did Bingo and we sang there on Fridays, and we visited a lot of people, and we got to know the hospital staff, they would call us, they would say, can you come over and help us with this whole thing right now that we're doing?  We're like, we're in Wrangell, and we said, why is the hospital calling us, they loved us.

H - We were known as the singing sisters, and we got to meet some really cool people.  There was a Baptist woman there in long term care; Baptists sometimes don't think so fondly of us and our beliefs, but she became one of our favorite people, and we visited her and sang her songs.  She just loved it, and was very accepting and very loving, so it worked out well.  We also did a lot of service at the museum, and while we did that we worked one on one with the museum coordinator, and we would talk about a gospel topic, we would sneakily throw it in, and we got her interested in good topics and were doing all of that service at the museum.
A - The curator, she's hilarious, if you ever serve in Petersburg.
H - That led her to invite us to sing at the museum open house for the whole community at Christmas.  The whole community comes and there's food, and we just really got our faces out and got to know the people.  We involved one of our ward members who's very well known in town.  A - He's in the police department.
H - Yeah, he's a cop.
A - We sang songs about Christ and just sang, and it's scary, half the people weren't smiling at us, some smiled at us, and it's scary if you sing and no one's smiling at you, but a lot of people came up to us after and said, thank you for singing to us.  One of the things you can do in the bush is something Elder Martinez came up with, we all tracted for Halloween, we all called in on polycom and said opening prayer, then we all went and tracted and had a game to go along with it and it was creative planning.  It was a good zone unifying thing, because you never see your zone, so it was good.  We had to see how many times we could get people to say pumpkin or raven or crow or something.  I made a cool transition to Bethel, I don't know what it was.  H - I'm not sure, hold on, Bethel and Nome.

A - We also organized a community concert secretly, so it wouldn't look like we did it, and the Oxford Carollers is this group of singers.  They get together and sing Oxford carols which are not just traditional Christmas songs.  We joined that, with permission, and were able to go to rehearsals every Monday.  The 7th Day Adventist pastor and the Lighthouse Assembly of God preacher were in the group, and the Catholic/Lutheran board was in the group, and they were great.  They would greet us, we never felt uncomfortable and we were able to sing and perform with them in the community concert.
H - We had an experience, we got up to sing, and one of the songs we sang with a nonmember; she wasn't an investigator, she was just one of the people in town we knew, and we asked her to sing and she did.  When we got up to sing, she's saying this in front of the whole community, and she said, I just want to thank the sisters for getting involved in this and for being so involved in the community, and helping us in every way, and she just did this whole spiel.    A - It was just really cool, I have no idea why she did that.
H - And it was, it was very nice of her, so it was good, people recognized that we were out doing things in the community, even if it was just singing. 
Bethel elders ---  (speaking from Bethel)

A - Thank you, that was awesome.  So our second segment is about service, and doing service with the Spirit, and remembering to share the gospel while you do service, and making sure you don't get into any traps while you're doing service.  We're going to talk more about service and Bethel has a cool thing about service.  We need to help those who need help, and that is the second verse and we're going to sing that now.  (song)  OK, so in Petersburg we did a lot of service.
H - In Preach My Gospel, page 168, the second paragraph, through service you and those you serve come together in a powerful, inspiring way.  Your good works will help people recognize you as a servant of God.  In Petersburg we had quite a few experiences.  The first example is Chris, she was a potential, and we knocked on her door one day, to stop by and say hi, she said now's not a good time, I'm about to pull a fence out, and we said can we help, and we were wearing skirts and stuff and we're like, hold on, and we ran home and changed and came back in 10 minutes, and said we're ready.  We got outside, and it went all around her back yard, and it was frozen solid, and we said you need a blow dryer or something, or boiling water, and she brought out a propane torch thing.  And we held it while she pulled the fence out of the ground, it took a long time but it worked.  We helped her make soap, because she makes soap and doesn't buy it.  The second one was an investigator, we stopped by and that morning her pipes had frozen and she and her brother were changing the pipes.  The elders met them at the store and they bought the insulation and we spent the rest of the day.

A - There was a less-active named Shannon, and she lived up the road like 10 miles, and lived by herself with a dog, out the highway along the island, out of city boundaries, and people lived a little different out there, and they didn't have finished houses.  She was building this warehouse on this property on scaffolding, and we said do you need help?  She said maybe I'll call you, maybe you can help me make some apple sauce.  She never called us.  The second time we saw her was at this race for breast cancer, and we asked her again, and she said, Oh, yeah, maybe I'll call you.  The next time we stopped by and it wasn't even on our planner.  She let us in and made us homemade hot chocolate, and she told us she had been really lonely that day.  She said she was going to go hunting soon to get some deer, we said, we'll help you.  She finally called us and we helped her grind the deer; these pictures of us cutting up deer.
H - She was skinning a deer, which we don't have pictures of, we spent quite a few hours cutting up the deer and doing things we never thought we would do on our mission.
A - We talked about the gospel.  We talked to her about motherhood, she had a problem with the role of the priesthood.  In case any one has a question about that, you can talk about the divine role of women, Eve was the mother of all living before she ever had a child.  She said, I really appreciated you guys coming over here and helping me.  I really needed the help, even with all your sneaky little gospel lessons. The Spirit can soften hearts and you can love them and let the love of Christ come through while you do service.  We can't fall into traps while we do service, so Bethel -----------
(speaking from Bethel)

A - These examples of service show how we must always conduct ourselves to show we're representatives of Jesus Christ.   Is there a puppet show, if not, we'll forgive you. 
H - The third segment is about being obedient, sometimes it's really hard when you're in the bush and you're the only missionaries there.  It's really easy to become relaxed and become comfortable and lazy, because your district leader is in Whitehorse, is really far away.  This verse has words I really like, God commands I must obey, ere the sun goes down. 


H - In the white handbook on pages 3 and 4, which is actually something from our call letter, but I love that it's in the white handbook, we can read it every day.  Called as one worthy to represent the Lord as a minister of the restored gospel, maintain the highest standards of conduct and appearance, devote all your time and attention to serve the Lord, leaving everything else behind, be an effective advocate and messenger of the truth, when you accepted your call.  Earn the trust of members and nonmembers.
A - D&C 88, ...cease to be idle, cease to sleep longer than is needful, arise early that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity..."
H - This is what helps us remember to be obedient.  I will admit, it's harder than you would think.

A - One of the things that helped me was Zion's Camp, that little map thing, Sis Peterson and I were super hard on ourselves.  We would call Elder Terry every day and say, we were a minute late, we've lost the day! Petersburg had a lot of things going on and I knew it was because we were being obedient, the blessings were amazing.  I have such a testimony that those blessings will come because you're obedient.  When you're not obedient, things won't work out the next day and you wonder why.  It's kind of that simple, and it's kind of hard.  I knew if I was exactly obedient, blessings would come, the area needed them.
H - The thing that helped me the most was, when I got to Petersburg I heard that there had been missionaries disobedient in the past; the members didn't trust the missionaries, did not have full confidence in them. Sister Beesley likes to use the term, you're in a fish bowl.  Everyone sees you and they know our rules, when we do something disobedient they will know, and they will tell people and start talking.  This is an experience that was really embarrassing for me---  
A - Not yet, Sister Hatfield.  We lived with members, and would say to them when we came out late in the morning, well, we were just weekly planning, and things like coming home, we would have dessert to hand to our branch president, because he liked it and we were trying not to gain weight, and we would talk to them a minute and they would say, talk to us!, and we always left and went up to plan.  If you care about the branch you are serving, don't stay too long, manifest the care that you have for them.  You talk about things that are gospel related.  Now we can talk about the embarrassing story.

H - It's very easy when you are serving somewhere to stay late at dinner, we were having dinner with members, and I love country music and the wife loved country music too, we talked about her favorite artist and about other artists.    A - I'm just sitting there.
H - She's sitting there awkward, because she doesn't like country music, and we got very off-topic and Sister Ashbrook was going to, she's more obedient than I am, she won't let me finish guys, this happens all the time, she made a comment about Moroni, and we all just kind of laughed, talked about the scriptures and went into our spiritual thought.
A - She's more obedient than I am.  When you're not with other missionaries you don't have those social distractions, when we're with a whole bunch of missionaries, we see them more, it's more social, it's just what happens; you don't have that and you just get to work. 
H - We did a lot of self-evaluation, maybe it's just because we're very critical of ourselves, every day.  
A - If you fall asleep on the couch, maybe you shouldn't, you should sit up when you're talking and not use casual language.
H - Remind yourself and remind your companion, even what we say or how we talk to people is taken very seriously, I think that their view of us goes down a little.
A - Sometimes if they see us as free labor, or they see us more as a friend, which is awesome, but we're always teachers.
H - Personally I did a lot of praying and turning to my companion for help, just in the little things that I can casually work on each day to be better, strive every day to be better missionaries, especially when you are in a fishbowl.  We'll turn the time over to Barrow, the ultimate bush missionaries, Elder Brower and then Elder Kafua will talk. 

(speaking in Barrow)
A - Thank you so much. Pres. Beesley said, we are where we're supposed to be, each companionship does a small fraction, then the next companionship will take the rest, and then the next companionship will take the next part, Christ is with us every step of the way.  I wanted to conclude with Alma 34, ...this (mission) is the time for men to prepare to meet God, the day for men to perform their labors, therefore I beseech of you that you do not procrastinate while in this mission, then cometh the night of darkness...I will repent, I'll return to my God, the same spirit does possess your bodies at the time that you got out of this mission, ...procrastinated, behold you have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, the devil has all power over you, the final state of the wicked.  In the hearts of the righteous does He dwell, the righteous shall sit down in His kingdom to go no more out, but their garments shall be made white in the blood of the Lamb.
As we love the area where we are and are obedient, they will love you, and you will love them, and it will be really hard to leave.  We have to change so that we can be the people God wants us to be, and we can't let anything hold us back.  I'm really grateful for the experiences, the good things the missionaries before us did and the wonderful members, I want to let nothing hold me back here as well. I know that we can have that bond, D&C 50, when we teach the Spirit, bond not easily broken, and I have a testimony of that, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

H - Dang it, I knew she'd make me cry. When I left my first area in Fairbanks, it was harder to leave Fairbanks than anything I've done in my life, I sat in Pres. Beesley's office and just cried for about 10-15 minutes, and he let me, because he's awesome.  He said, why are you crying, and I said, President, I will never love any person more than I love the people of Fairbanks.  He said, you will love the people of Petersburg, you will love the people in every area that you serve in about the same, they are wonderful, kind, warmhearted people who just want to love and serve the Lord.  It's very hard, in ways that you wouldn't expect, to serve in the bush, but it's completely worth it.  As we turn to the Lord He will help us through all things, and lead us to the people who need us most.  I just want to leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thanks, Sisters, and Elders up in Barrow, Bethel, and Nome, we're grateful for your preparation and the training you all did.  We'll sing on page 224, Sister Hatfield will lead, Sister Ashbrook will play the piano for us, and afterwards Elder Tai will give the closing prayer.

(Melissa playing, song, elder said, Bye, everybody!)

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