Monday, January 3, 2011

                                           Here we are in the forests of Alaska where heavy stands of birch
                                           trees are common. We actually live in the forest.
                                          The birch is a hard wood that people like to burn if they can
                                          get it. The Alaska black spruce is more common and is
                                          used for firewood more often. Lots of people burn wood
                                          here, and for many it is their only source of heat.

                                          On our walk we ran into fresh moose tracks in the snow.

We have been warned that if we come into contact with moose while out walking that we should just wait and give the moose the right of way. The moose may defend  their right to use the trail most aggressively.

On the other hand our car still seems to be resisting the cold temperatures here. On Monday one of our power steering hoses blew off.  Fortunately  it occurred right in our own driveway and not out on one of our trips to visit early morning seminaries. The Mission keeps an extra car here in Fairbanks that we able to use while ours was being repaired.  We are back on the road again. On Thursday, we went to the DMV to take our Alaska driving test and get our licenses.  Our studying paid off, and we passed every question. 

A Chinook moved in and it warmed up to 40 degrees on Sunday. It was 20 degrees when we arrived at church and it felt by comparison quite comfortable.  We understand that our cold weather has been transferred to Utah.  One of the blessings of being here in the mission field is the time we have to study the gospel. We are both enjoying this opportunity especially as we prepare to teach the many classes at the institute this coming spring semester.  Seminary starts again this week, but Institute classes begin when the University starts again on Jan. 20.

As we begin this new year, we encourage our family and friends to find the blessings that come from regular family prayer, family home evening, family scripture study, and family meals together.  We have been promised blessings that will strengthen our families as we do these things.   We love you all so very much.

Jim and JoAnn