Sunday, December 25, 2011

                                   District meeting with the elders ends up with lunch and a little fun.
                                          A special sewing "class" with Heidi and Katrina Miller.
                                                Helping Sage Lewis get ready for some sewing.
After Christmas dinner with Matt Chandler, Riley Nelson and Gary Holyoak.
                                                     Deck the halls with all the grandkids.
       Mae, Spencer, Grahm, Aidan, Gabe, McKay, Calan, Jake, Izzie, Morgan, Gabi, Cate, Gavin, Owen                      Nora, Tanner, Keaton, Taya, Kyla, Tayler, Claira, Parley (opps), McKenna, Lexie, Elizabeth, Lucas

What a wonderful Christmas Day.  We had a chance to talk to most of the family today and yesterday.  That was our highlight.  Today we only had Sacrament Meeting as did all of the wards in the Church.  The choir sang two wonderful songs and the program was intermixed with scriptures telling of the birth of Jesus Christ and Christmas songs.  I had the chance to accompany Gary Holyoak as he sang "Oh, Holy Night."  It was a beautiful arrangement that took me a considerable bit of practicing, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Gary has a wonderful voice.  President Duval of the Stake Presidency was there and spoke of the importance of Jesus Christ.  He reminded us that if Christ had not been born or atoned for our sins, the whole reason for the earth would be wasted.  What a a blessing it is to know that we can live with Him again and with our Father in Heaven if we repent and accept His gospel.  I am so grateful for His life and sacrifice for all of us.

Our week at the Institute was quieter than usual.  With the University closed for the holiday break, we had time to prepare for next year.  It is fun for us to have the other missionaries come to the Institute for their district meetings and lunch.  We enjoy their enthusiasm and love for each other and the gospel.  With transfers this week, we were fortunate to keep the entire Fairbanks zone intact.  President Beesley has mentioned that this zone works so well together.  That's a wonderful compliment.

Wednesday, Heidi, Katrina, and Sage came for a "sewing class."  It was great fun to help them with their projects.  They are wonderful girls and I enjoy teaching them and being with them. 

On Monday evening at our home evening group, Gary Holyoak brought his barbershop quartet to give us a Christmas concert.  It was delightful to have them share their love of music with us.  It was so fun to hear them sing Christmas songs as well as other barbershop music.  They have been cast in the Music Man production that is being presented this spring.  They will be perfect and we look forward to seeing it.

Last night, Christmas Eve, we invited the elders to come for dinner if they didn't have an appointment.  We were happy to have  Elder Coombs, Elder Sonderegger,  Elder Kafoa and Elder Blackhurst join us.  We love to share time and food with the elders. On Christmas Eve we provided transportation for President Olsen (our landlord) to the airport to fly up to Barrow with his daughter Julie to be with his wife who is working in Barrow.  Thursday night  we took Trisha to the airport so she could catch a fllight back to Boston to be with her family for Christmas. Today we were blessed to have Gary, Riley, and Matt join us for dinner in the afternoon.  Others in the branch had families to spend Christmas with. 

Thank you for your love and support and prayers.  We appreciate the great blessing  of serving here but miss our family especially at these special times.  May the Lord bless all of you and your families during the coming new year.  

JoAnn and Jim

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A beautiful sunset today at 2:30 p.m.
                                A few of the Christmas lights at Pioneer Park on the old log cabins.
The Nenana paddle wheel ship in Pioneer Park.
Look who came to dinner at Sister Gridley's house.  The elders know a good cook.
                               Part of Sister Loveless' class in Salcha.  Her brother was there as well.
                                               More seminary students looking up scriptures.

Well I guess this week we can wish  you a very merry Christmas and a joyous season to all! As you can see from the pictures above the time of  Christmas is full upon us here in the great north. We have had occasion to be in the city of North Pole a couple of times this past week and it is certainly a very interesting place at this time of the year. The post office is extremely busy and the town is a decked out with ice sculptures in Christmas themes and colorful lights every where.

The days are very short now as we noticed the colors of sunrise while driving to church at about 10:30AM and noticed the colors of sunset as pictured above at about 2:30 PM. I also watched a moon set the other night and noticed that the moon was moving at a 45 degree angle across the sky towards the horizon. If we were to drive 130 miles north of Fairbanks to the Arctic circle on the 21st of December (the winter solstice) the sun would actually disappear below the horizon and would never come up on that day.

The other day we took a walk through the Pioneer Park streets that were all decorated with Christmas lights. There are many old pioneer buildings that have been rescued and placed in that park and are used for stores in the summer. It is all closed in winter except they do a great job of decorating all of the buildings including the old stern wheeler they have on display there with colorful lights.

Pictured above are many of the Elders of the Fairbanks zone. They are really a great bunch of missionaries and are happy and hard workers seeking out those who are willing to hear the message of the restored gospel. Sister Spens baked cinnamon rolls for them this week at there district meetings that they always hold at the institute building.

The early morning seminary class pictured above is an example of the fifteen early morning classes that occur throughout the stake and that we have the privilege of supervising  as part of our mission responsibility. They are filled with great young people and are taught by wonderful  and dedicated teachers that we have the privilege to work with.

It is a wonderful opportunity to be serving a mission at this Christmas season. To a great extent it allows us not to be to concerned about the materialism of Christmas and to focus on serving the Lord. We would join our testimonies with others and declare that Jesus Christ, the infant son born to Mary in such humble circumstances was indeed the very Son of God and is the Savior of the world. We rejoice in celebrating his birth and commit ourselves to his service this Christmas season and wish for all of you all of the blessings that come through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

With love,
Elder and Sister Spens

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fairbanks Zone Conference
The white elephant gift game
A couple of Elders?
                                                       Thursday evening institute class

Merry Christmas from North Pole, AK  --  The elves are busy making toys for Christmas.

                                                       Santa's almost ready for take off
                                                    The perfect face warmer for the season

Zone conference on Friday was the highlight of the week.  Pres. and Sister Beesley were here for the weekend for zone conference and  for interviews.  We enjoyed having an interview with Pres. Beesley.  He certainly has been inspired in leading the mission and in making missionary transfers which come all too often it seems.  In December, the missionaries leaving will leave three days before their replacements arrive.  It should be an interesting week.  Besides having wonderful instruction on how to share the knowledge of Christ at this season, we had a wonderful "Christmas dinner."  Sister Beesley asked me to be in charge of getting some sisters to help prepare the food and have it ready for dinner at 4:00 p.m.  I was in charge of cooking two turkeys in roaster ovens.  It usually makes me nervous to cook something in a way that I have never done it in the past.  The turkeys were ready three hours early!  Luckily they were in roasting bags so they stayed moist and nice.  We had enough food to feed an army.  With the left overs, we made plates of dinner for almost half of the branch after meetings today to take home.  At least the food is gone and has not gone to waste.  Sister Duval, Sister Hardy, Sister Gridley and Sister Cook helped with the food.  Their help was so appreciated.
After dinner we had a white elephant gift exchange that was lots of fun.  Elder Spens ended up with 1 ear protector, and I got a pair of socks with a purple moose on them.  That should be fun.  Afterwards we enjoyed musical numbers and the elders and sisters each shared something about Christmas that was special to them.  We ended on a note of gratitude and commitment to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.

This week was the last week of classes at the institute until school begins again in January.  We had a pizza party after classes were over on Thursday that was enjoyed by all.  We certainly enjoy our association with these great kids.  They are faithful and strong. 

Last Monday morning we drove to Salcha to visit the early morning seminary class there with Sister Loveless.  We didn't check the internet to find out that school had been cancelled because of road conditions due to the freezing rain on Sunday.  Needless to say, we arrived safely and realized that class was not being held.  Tomorrow we are going to return and the weather should be fine.  It's about a 45 minute drive to Salcha, we it will be early when we leave in the morning.  On the way home, we made a quick stop in North Pole to take some pictures of the ice sculptures there.  It's too bad that the rain had melted them a bit.  At least it did not rain for three days like it did last year.

What a wonderful time of year.  I love the Christmas music that reminds us of the wonderful birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  We invite you to view the new Bible videos that are about the life of Christ that were filmed in Goshen, Utah, this summer.  The video of the birth of the Savior is very touching and will bring the love of Christ into your heart this Christmas time.  The link is:
We encourage everyone to view this wonderful video.

We miss all of you this holiday season and pray for the Lord's blessings to be with you and your families.

JoAnn and Jim

Sunday, December 4, 2011

                                       Sister Linda Quarnberg's seminary class at Eielson AFB.
                        Enjoying refreshments after the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.

Our Alaskan Nativity

Sunset over the mostly frozen Chena River at 3:30 PM

This past week we had a chance to visit with Sister Quarnberg's early morning seminary class at the Eilson Air Force Base chapel. All of these students are children of military families stationed at the base. She has a great bunch of young people in her class that seem very attentive and interested in the seminary curriculum. We have seen some young people that for various reasons are just not into early morning seminary. We have some who are not attending and some who attend but just want to put their head down and sleep. It is nice to see a class where everyone is awake and participating. The young people certainly need the in-depth instruction and learning that comes from seminary to strengthen them for the world they have to live in. We get the idea that the protestant/catholic facility there on the air force base "tollerates" the LDS use of their facility because the seminary students and teacher have obvious restrictions on use like having to cover their bulletin board and the LDS information on it after their use. There are signs and posters all around the facility that say "everyone welcome", but that is not quite the case.

You can see from above that we have put out our Arctic Christmas decorations to give our apartment a little Christmas cheer. We also have the 'grand kids garland and need all grand kids (except Jenny's because we already have them) to send a simple home made ornament type decoration for the garland before Christmas. We try to keep our decorations to a minimum even though our land lord Randy Olson offers us any thing we may want to use of his decorations collected over the past thirty years.

As you can see from the wintry picture above of the mostly frozen Chena river things are pretty well frozen up now and will stay that way until spring. There are almost never any days above freezing in the winter here although Sunday it got up to about 35 degrees for a short period of time and made the usually powdery snow turn soft. We have seen snow men pop up in peoples yards that are typically not made because of the powdery snow conditions. The snow men will last until spring just frozen solidly in place.  Our car needed some additional work and was in the local shop this last week. Our relatively new battery was just not up to the sever winter conditions here as well as a few other running problems that would not have been so noticeable in a warmer condition. Cars have to be kept in top running condition here because anything that is weak or on the verge of failing the low temperatures will aggravate and amplify.

We ordered a number of the Mr. Kruger's Christmas video to provide another missionary tool for our branch missionaries to use. We used it last year as a "living Christmas card" as the full time missionaries liked to call it. We hope they will all be distributed and hopefully will engage some in further pursuit of the gospel.

We gathered at the institute for the First Presidency Fireside this last Sunday. We only had about eight students come because of freezing road conditions due to some freezing rain that fell on Sunday and because the total number of YSA in the branch continues to diminish. There is just a trend towards fewer and fewer students at the institute as a result of the smaller numbers over all. We simply do not have as many students coming to Alaska as there have been in the past plus there is a smaller population of YSA in the Fairbanks area as well. The YSA that are here are very faithful and strong young people and will continue to contribute to the church for the rest of their lives. It is truly a great experience to be here in Alaska as missionaries and work with the Seminary and Institute program of the church.

Enjoy the holiday season,
Jim and JoAnn

Sunday, November 27, 2011

                                      Some beautiful native bead work in Katie Oates' pony tail.
                                                      More bead work on Katie's gloves.
Icicles on the frozen exhaust pipe. 
                            Thanksgiving with Gary, Elder Meteer, and Elder Spens in our apartment.
Alisa and Dale Hardy came to help with our Thanksgiving dinner & Elder Williams.
                                                                        Jackapo and Rachel                     Matt Chandler
                              Jackapo, Cameron, Kamal, Alisia, Gary, Rachel & baby Brooklyn

                                                 Ready to play games after dinner.

What a wonderful week we have enjoyed.  On Monday evening, we had a Thanksgiving dinner and talent show with the branch at the Stake Center.  Everyone came through on their food assignments, and the food was delicious.  The talent show was a variety of fun and an opportunity to learn more about the members of the branch.  Elder Spens participated with a variety of illusions that he likes to share.  "There's no such thing as magic," he says.  We had about 40 or more people that came, members and friends. 

Tuesday evening our guest speaker was called away to Idaho with a family emergency.  We were able to put together a panel of members who work in the medical field, and we had a great discussion on the importance of living a healthy life.  Wednesday, I had another wonderful class with my group of faithful students discussing a conference talk.  Every day I get a little closer to my goal to have the library cataloged.  It's a blessing to have access to cataloging information from the Church History Library to help me out.  I couldn't do it otherwise. 

Thanksgiving day was delightful.  Bro. and Sister Hardy had offered to have us come to their home for dinner.  Since we had already invited several students that did not have families here, we invited them to join us.  Sister Hardy is a wonderful cook and really outdid herself with a variety of additions to the dinner.  At least she let me fix the turkey, dressing, potatoes, and gravy.  There was plenty of food and enough for the guys to make plates to take home for the next day.  I was happy to have the students stay and play games for almost three hours after dinner.  It's so fun to associate with them. 

The car decided to rebel again and wouldn't start even though we just got it back from the repair shop.  Luckily we were able to jump it and took it to the repair shop again.  We didn't expect to find anyone there, but by a small miracle, the owner decided to come to the shop for just a few minutes at the same time.  The use of the spare mission car is a much needed blessing. 

Today we were able to talk to most of our children and grandchildren through the computer.  We are so grateful to be able to see the little ones grow up even though we are so far away.  We are so blessed to be a part of our wonderful family.  There are so many things to be grateful for, especially at this wonderful time of the year.  We are grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that has been restored to the earth with the power of the priesthood available again to bless the world.  We are grateful that Mom and Dad are still with us and  that we can talk to them fairly often.  They have been such good examples of faith and service to me and all of our family.  We appreciate all the wonderful friends that we have both at home and here in Alaska.  It's a great blessing to be able to serve the Lord here.  We love you all and pray for the Lord to bless you.

JoAnn & Jim

Sunday, November 20, 2011

      This is one of the 'extra' cars the mission maintains here in Fairbanks. We are currently driving it.
              The frozen north winter has fully settled in and this is a view down our driveway on the hill.
                     Pumpkins carved at Halloween are now quite solidly frozen and will be until spring.
             Our outside doorway entrance is an auxiliary refrigerator that stays at 20 to 30 below freezing.
      This is an ulu knife that everyone uses here to chop stuff. It was invented by the natives a long time ago.
                The twenty thousand foot Denali from our hill looking across the Tanana valley at sunset.
Our early Christmas decorations in our apartment consisting of a garland and pictures of the grandkids.
Notice there is space for MORE grandchildren's picture/decoration. It will be like an angel tree. We will pick one of the grandchildren's ornament at random and they will receive all of our inheritance! Of course that means they will just inherit all of our bills!

The reason we are driving the other car is that our suburban would not turn over the other day even though it was plugged in overnight to heat the engine block. We do not know why it would not start until we had it jumped. So our mechanic is checking it our. Maybe it was because it was 30 below zero?  It is interesting the brand new jeep whatever it is does not ride as smoothly as our now ten year old suburban but at least we have the extra car. You will notice the extension cord that plugs in the engine block heater!

That pumpkin carved by the YSA truly will stay frozen all winter and makes a nice November decoration at the institute. We saw some pumpkins on  porch last winter that lasted the full winter frozen solid. The turkey frozen and hanging on our back porch is for JoAnn to cook for some of the YSA who have no family up here or have not been invited to another family for dinner. We will be having Thanksgiving dinner for them here at our place this year.

The "ulu" knife is an interesting Alaskan item that every home has to have. They are very efficient for chopping vegetables and great for cutting pizza. The one in the picture has a handle made of whale bone that is very old. The round wood bowl helps to keep in place whatever you are cutting in place while providing a chopping block surface as well. 

From the hill we live on, it is only occasionally that we get a clear spectacular view of Denali. It is spectacular when it is out and it is always interesting to view on our way to church or the institute.  To the left of the picture and out of view the entire Alaska range was also visible and it makes those mountains look very close even though they are over 100 miles away and Denali is over 150 miles away.  You can tell where the city of Fairbanks is down below us by the many exhaust moisture plums from furnaces.

We taught the lesson at family night this week and played the classic talk of Hugh B. Brown, "Profile of a Prophet". It is truly a great witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his miraculous accomplishments. I remember using that talk when I was a young missionary.  Family home evening was at Trisha's apartment, and being a lawyer herself, she was impressed.  I think all of our lessons at family home evening are for her benefit and instruction.  She continues to attend church and learn as much as she can.  We hope some day she will have the desire to be baptized. 

At church today we went on the 30 below zero reduced schedule where we omit the middle portion of the block. If it gets down to 40 below zero then we would have sacrament meeting only, and if it gets below 50 below zero we would just have the sacrament ordinance for those brave enough to come to church in those conditions. We have been asked about out institute policy in terms of temperatures but as of now we do not have one in place. Last Thursday it was 30 below zero at night and we only had a few students. JoAnn made hot chicken dumpling soup that was appreciated by all who came. It is great to see the faithfulness of many of the YSA in the area. As some say, "the frozen chosen". Seminary classes were cancelled three days this week because of the temperature.  The work of the Lord continues here in Alaska.

As we all count our blessings this week, we are grateful for the opportunity we have to be here in Alaska and serving the Lord in our small way.  We appreciate the blessing of a wonderful family and wonderful friends.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Jim and JoAnn 

Monday, November 14, 2011

                   Baked potato toppings, potato soup, and potato-topped shepherds pie with moose meat.           
                               Jeremy Roe, Gary Holyoak, Matt Chandler, David Hartshorn enjoying potatoes.
                                           David Hartshorn, Tyler White and others enjoying home evening.
                           Elder Spens, Lyndell Goolsby, Graten, Sister Spens after seminary in Tok.
                     The beautiful Alaska range  mountains near Tok as we were returning this morning before sunrise.

It's been another wonderful week.  On Monday evening, we had a combined home evening at the Institute.  The main purpose was to teach the young people how to use potatoes in making nutritious meals.  We had great fun preparing baked potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, potato soup, and a potato-topped casserole.  Those that came had a great time and left with full stomachs. 

Besides regular classes, this week we had an inservice class for our seminary teachers.  Several called in to join us by phone.  It's a great way to share ideas and meet with those in far away places.  It's always a delight to meet with the teachers.  Yesterday (Sunday) we drove to Tok which is about 240 miles away near the Canadian border.  We were curious about the origin of the name "Tok"? We were told that when the highways were first being built that there were a lot of Japanese workers there and they called the junction "Little Tokyo" and it just became Tok. The word that is pronounced tok is also the Inupiat word for hacking away at ice. Anyway the branch meets in the Goolsby's home.  Since they only have about 30 members total, they were happy to ask us to speak.  It was a good thing that they meet at 1 p.m., because it took us about 4 hours to get there.  Pres. Goolsby said after our sacrament talks that we had been an answer to his prayers. He did not elaborate but our talks were just our regular presentations that we have been using at various sacrament meetings. JoAnn talks about agency and Jim talks about the doctrine of learning. After meetings, we were invited to join Pres. Goolsby and his family for dinner.  It's always fun to be in their home.  The Goolsby's moved into their new home in February.  It's lovely.  This morning we met with Sister Gooslby and their son Graten for a class on the Old Testament.  Sister Goolsby also home teaches her children, and she is always well prepared.  On the way home, the mountains were visible and the sky was clearing.  Alaska is a beautiful place. We saw about four moose along the road and  we were surprised to find it warmer in Tok than in Fairbanks.  It was about 14 degrees there.  It is unusual for them to be so warm at this time of year. 

On Thursday I had the opportunity to teach a class on becoming and finding an eternal companion.  Even though I only had three students, we had a good discussion.  I felt like it was time well spent.  Elder Spens' class was larger as usual.  There are more students that are off work in time to come to his class on the Old Testament.  We also had two students view it online on our stake web site.  We hope that broadcasting the classes will encourage more to participate. 

I have been working on cataloging the library as often as I can.  It's coming along pretty well.  We stopped in Delta Junction at their public library to stretch our legs on the way home.  The librarian is a member of the church there and always welcomes us.  It always reminds me of wonderful times working in the library at Park Lane and the wonderful friendships with those I worked with.

We enjoyed talking to Jenny and the kids on Sunday evening.  It's hard to believe that we have been here over a year.  We can tell that the grand kids are growing up fast.  We do love each one in our family and miss all of you.  Don't forget to have family home evening.  We love the Lord and love being missionaries. 

 Love to all of you!
JoAnn & Jim

Sunday, November 6, 2011

                    We had to stop and take a picture of the beautiful sunrise on the way to the Institute.
                                  Trisha in Pres. Olsen's judge's robes for Halloween at home evening.
 Elder Ulu'ave on the far right and Elder Williams at our apartment for a final dinner before Elder Ulu'ave
leaves for his double home of Utah and Hawaii.
                                   Sandy and Cameron at Sandy's baptism this last Saturday.

The top picture is looking into the deep southwest as the sun starts is winter decline. We still have about eight hours of daylight but the day length continues to shorten. The Alaskan winter has more or less settled in with days and nights hovering around zero degrees. The little snow we get is so powdery that it blows of of the road and also the car. We have started to plug the car into our block heater that comes on for three hours before we start the car in the mornings. The heater and the remote start are real advantages here in Alaska.

The next picture of Trisha is at our family night Halloween party. I think she really enjoyed putting on Judge Olsen's robes since she works as a law clerk here in Fairbanks. The party was great fun and we were overwhelmed with Halloween goodies since the were very few trick or treaters who came to the house. Even though Trisha is not a member yet President Olsen asked her to be the director of our family home evening and to host it at her apartment.                                                                                                                                                                 The picture of the two zone leaders was taken at our apartment when we had the farewell dinner for Elder Ulu'ave. At dinner we found that he knows Ti Salakielu from Hawaii and has been to the Salakielu home in Sandy as well.

The last picture is of Sandy's baptism. She is truly a very spiritual lady. Cameron came to UAF in the Physics department last year and Sandy is the secretary of the department. Cameron had the opportunity to introduce her to the gospel and she has been investigating for the last year. She finally met with the missionaries and committed to baptism. She said that she has been looking for the right church to join and had been seeking the truth for the past three years. She is extremely happy to have found the true church and to have been baptized. Her husband is already recognizing that she has changed with her acceptance of the gospel.
We have experienced two great firesides this week end. First Elder Holland and Bishop Burton came to Anchorage on Saturday and presented a fireside on Saturday night that was broadcast to Fairbanks stake. Then on Sunday night the CES fireside was a presentation by Elder Packer. It has been great to have been instructed by members of the quorum of the twelve this weekend.

Jim and JoAnn

Monday, October 31, 2011

                                              A sample of the Thursday night treats for Institute.
               Joe Verhagen at his going away party as he leaves this Tuesday for his mission in the New York City South Mission.  (The same general area where Elder Spens was a young missionary.)
                            Nick Maynes at the Halloween party.  This Alaska bear gave his all for this costume.
                                          Andy Pusateri and Karlie Gray, our latest engaged couple.
                                           The pie eating contest at the branch Halloween party.
                                                     (Anne, Riley, Ethan, Taylor, Nick)

Another week has passed with more adventures in classes and other fun activities.  We were excited to have some of our students from Delta Junction and Nenana come for classes this week.  It's always a boost to our spirits and to the classes when the students from a ways away are able to come join us.  President and Sister Hull spoke at our Institute class on Tuesday night and it was wonderful to hear their testimonies on how faith in Jesus Christ can help us provide for ourselves and others.  Sue Hull is one of our seminary teachers, and Pres. Hull is a member of the stake presidency.  Both of them are wonderful teachers.  Our broadcast is getting better, but it is only available at the time of the class because of our internet speed.  We hope some are able to log in on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Saturday evening we took two of the young adults with us to Nenana to the Verhagen's home to say good bye to Joe.  He is a great young man and he is so excited to go to the big city to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Some of his family have been having a wonderful adventure in Utah being part of the cast for the New Testament videos the Church has been filming in Goshen.  We were able to see some wonderful pictures and hear about their experience.  We can't wait until the final production comes out.  Josh Verhagen is very grateful to be clean shaven again and have his hair cut as well.  Here is a link to a video clip of the filming.  Josh is the young man standing behind the girl in the first picture.  He is also standing behind the widow as she deposits her mite in the temple coffers.

Saturday evening was also the Branch Halloween party at the Institute.  The kids did a wonderful job of decorating and planning a fun time.  All of those that were there had a great time.  It's fun to see them having such a great time together.  They really enjoy each others' company.  Nick gave me quite a start when he hid behind my door in his real black bear skin.

Today was Sunday.  We traveled to Healy about 128 miles away to speak in Sacrament Meeting.  We needed to visit our seminary teachers there and were able to do some training as well as have a seminary lesson with the two families that are teaching seminary at home.  We were anxious to get them started.  Some times we have a difficult time getting in touch with our teachers that are far away.  I hope things will go well with their seminary experiences.  Each family has one child that they are teaching.  At least now we have some contact information and know who we are talking to.  That is a huge help.  They were very kind to have a nice lunch for us afterwards.

It has been a great blessing to be able to study the gospel of Jesus Christ and share it with students and branches here in Alaska.  The more we study and learn of Him, the more we will feel His love for us and He can become our greatest friend.  Understanding and relying on the Atonement of Jesus Christ takes a lifetime of learning that can bring us the greatest joy.  Have a wonderful week.

JoAnn and Jim