Monday, June 3, 2013

pretending I have like a year left on my mission (Pictures!!)

Zone Conference

Mission Leadership Conference

So I was gonna like send more pictures but the thing is being so slow that I gave up, BUT....I will show you all at one point my amazing pictures. I was gonna send you baptism pictures, so that woulda been cool, but you see the thing is we all have to deal with trials in life.

Feeding the bears in Sitka

4 of us in Sitka
So yeah, in Sitka we fed bears, and also went and did service at the raptor center, and so that was cool.

But now I'm back and workin hard in Anchorage with my companion Sister Burbank. Well, sometimes I'm with her. I went on 2 exchanges this past week, there are two sets of sisters in Palmer and Wasilla and so we went with them, and tonight I'm gonna go work in south Anchorage YSA with Sister Hatfield's companion, Sister Grayson, and Sister Burbank will be with Sister Hatfield, and we'll switch back tomorrow night.

So. Last Monday we had our last lesson with our recent convert who's shy and 17, and then she flew off to Pittsburg. I got the number of the branch pres out there and President Beesley gave me permission to call him. I also got the number for the church building where our Russian investigator's 6 kids will be for the next 3 months and got permission to call Ohio, too. So let me just tell you, calling these people and introducing myself as a full-time missionary in the Alaska Anchorage Mission and hearing their reaction is awesome. They are just like, "Wow." It's surprising. Not every day Alaska calls you, right? It's okay, I never expected to get to know Alaska either, and now here I am.

So Tuesday we got a phone call from our bishop, who's awesome and wants to really do what Elder Zwick challenged all the ward councils to do---have investigators taught in members' homes. I told Bishop how Bishop Lark back in my singles ward had a night every week where investigators and missionaries and ward missionaries were free to come and teach. Bishop loved the idea, and set aside Thursday for that, and so we get this call Tuesday where he said, "Well I called all your investigators but none of them have given a definitive answer that they'll be able to make it, so I'm panicking that I'm being too bold and have set this goal and was really wondering if my faith was strong enough that I could have someone at my home every week, so I went out to visit some people and they had a friend over and I've invited her to come to my home Thursday night at 7 and she agreed and said she has questions about the church, so I've gotten you a new investigator, so will you be able to make it?"

I just love my bishop.

So that Thursday we went over and I'm SORRY, I'm having the hardest time picking out "names" for my investigators so that I can preserve their like, privacy, I'm not sure why. ANyway, she has a 3-year-old daughter and is a very sweet woman. We gave her an introductory lesson and answered all her questions which were really good, more practical really, like what does it take to be a member of the church, and what are the biggest differences between our church and a non-denominational christian church, and what are the do's and dont's of this church because she's heard of a few and wants to be aware of all of them so she'll know what type of change she'll need to make in her life if she were to join.

We've met with her twice since then, quick follow-up visits at her home and will save teaching lessons (unless otherwise directed) for THursday night at 7 at Bishop's house.

Wednesday I was on exchanges with Sister Morey and we contacted a spunky black woman and was found through I think the Samoan elders who were contacting someone or tracting near her apartment and she said, "Why are you going to everyone else's door and not sharing a message with me??" They quickly took her info and we went to contact her and we got let in and then I felt like a horrible STL cuz I was like, whispering outta the corner of my mouth, "Hey Sister Morey, do you have a book of mormon or a pamphlet or anything?" My bag recently broke and I'm using my purse and it's just not that BIG and sometimes I don't have like pros material, aren't I horrible?

We've gone back to teach THIS woman a coupla more times, the coolest lesson was when her son who recently got sent to prison called and we shared a message and sang "I am a child of God' to him over the phone and for the closing prayer, our investigator wanted EACH of us to say a prayer---I've never done that before, it's different, but what I really loved about it is that as each one of us---our investigator, me, my companion, the sweet member we brought with us (the bishop's daughter who has got a mission call to Ukraine) and finally her son on the phone---prayed to God, I realized, that for the past 10 minutes the thoughts of each of us have been directed toward heaven quietly and reverently and that's a long time to do that for a closing prayer and it was so nice and peaceful.

Also this past week, Sister Burbank and I went to the behavioral center where the Stellar Mom's 14-year-old daughter is, you know, my investigator from my past area, and we taught her about faith, and it was really good to see the Stellar Mom and her autistic son and share a message with them as well. The elders in Beach Lake have started teaching the autistic son, he's been taught before, but hasn't been too receptive, and now he's thinking about getting baptized June 15 which is awesome.

Saturday I went up to Matanuska in Palmer to do exchanges with the sisters there, I was with Sister Platero, who Sister Burbank trained. The highlight of that day was seeing The Woman In the Store. If you remember her, she was my golden investigator in my first area whose husband is SO AGAINST the church. She always lived in Matanuska Ward boundaries, and when we found that out, we were way bummed, and then when I got transferred she said, "Yeah, I don't really want elders." Well, 5 weeks ago, sisters got put in Matanuska ward, and I told them to go contact the Woman In the Store, and tell her I sent them and wanted to see her. They set up an appointment for us to see her this past Saturday at 1. Sister Platero and I went and it was AWESOME.

She expressed to us, again, how much she admired the structure, the values, of the Mormon church, and how it frustrated her that when she FIRST took the lessons in 2001 her husband was the one who sort of convinced her not to go through with it and when I started teaching her over a year ago, again, it caused tension in their marriage, and this time, she told us, "I just don't know if he'll ever come around."

I said, "Well, let's invite him to sit in on the lessons with you." So when he came in from working on the yard, I just cheerfully asked him. I said, "Hey, since you're the head of the household, and we don't want to do anything behind your back and we want you to be aware of everything going on between the missionaries and your wife because you may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar with what we believe, we wanted to invite you to sit in on her lessons and listen to what we believe and be able to be there for your wife. Is that all right? Could we come back next Saturday?"

And he said, "Sure, I don't mind." he didn't look like THE MOST COMFORTABLE man on earth, but he agreed, and we set up a lesson for the next Saturday, and i told them I wouldn't be there but the other sister would and they would love her, and we also invited the 14-year-old daughter, and so Sister Platero was able to pick up 3 investigators that day, and it was just a great day.

Sunday was church. One of the recent converts that the elders in the ward taught received the Aaronic priesthood. And less actives came to church for the first time in months. And our spunky black investigator with the son in prison came to church as well. It was a great day. After that we taught the woman with the 3-year-old daughter that our bishop found for us, we went over the intro to the book of mormon and it was a really good lesson. That night we went to the mission home to help plan stuff and prepare stuff for Missionary Leadership Council this Wednesday. Apparently I'm helping to present a 20-minute training on studies. I was told it's because my study journal is like 7 inches thick. I love the Beesleys. Did I ever tell you that Sister Beesley once asked me if I was medicated??? They are so HILARIOUS. We watched videos of the APs going delirious and during a really stressful part of the planning process that night, President Beesley quietly pulled out that video on his iPhone and played it for like 3 seconds. It made us all laugh and then we got back to work. Haha.

Anyway, I'm just working hard and pretending I have like a year left on my mission so that in my head I don't think about home, so that's cool.

I love my mission and I know that the Spirit can soften people's hearts. I know that we meet the people we meet for a reason. I know that we can change through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that the Savior lives and that if we follow him, he will give us peace.

Love you all
Sister Ashbrook and the bears and the raptors

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