Sunday, March 20, 2011

                                   Here is an example of the delicate ice carving found at Ice Alaska, an
                                    International ice carving competition here in Fairbanks.
                                                                       Phone home.
                                                          Zoo animals in the childrens' area.
                                     A spotted leopard in a pavilion of ice complete with gargoyles.
                                                                 A friendly ice Eskimo.
                                                                   The tiny ballerina.
                                                   Dog sledding with the aurora overhead.
                                                 A musk ox on the UAF large animal facility.
                                                          The Alaska oil pipeline overhead.
                                                  A quilt showing some of the animals of Alaska.
                                        The center is a world map looking down from the North Pole.

     This week has been spring break for students at UAF so we have not had institute classes this week. On Monday we went to the ice carving festival as shown above. We went with a member of the branch presidency, a few YSA and one investigator. We all dressed warmly because spring in Alaska means temperatures around 25 degrees in the day time and around zero at night. We checked out the large Alaskan animal farm at UAF to see the musk ox above. He did not seem to care that we stood right next to him. He just kept on eating his grass. They are actually a variety of goat. There are wild herds of the musk ox that live on the northern tundra areas. Their inner "wool" is very soft and is spun into yarn and woven into sweaters, scarfs,etc. It is a very expensive material costing almost $100 per skein. It is combed out of the animals coat in the spring when they start to molt.
    On Saturday for a break JoAnn and I also took a drive north on the Dalton highway where we took the pipeline picture above. It had to be one of the worst highway driving experiences we have had so far. The roadway was hilly up and down and very icy. When we would climb a hill we would loose speed because we were loosing traction and thus momentum. We would hit the bottom of the hill at about 50 and then gradually slow down until we reached the top when we would be down to 35 or so. It was a challenge to drive. It is the ice truckers highway up to Prudhoe Bay.
     When we first arrived here in Fairbanks and went to the Institute of Religion,  I felt like we had traveled to a far corner of the earth far away from home.   However,  I felt a certain sense of being at home in the building that has become the place of our daily service.  Today in our Sacrament meeting we heard from Pres. Wappett who was the stake president when the Institute was built.  It was his privilege to dedicate the building back in 1997.  He spoke of the sacred experience he had at the dedication and of how the building was built with the sacred funds of the Church.  I  now know, at least in part, why I felt at home in the institute facility almost at once.  It is truly great to be missionaries serving in Alaska.  We feel a great responsibility to serve the students to the best of our abilities.

(Today is the first day of Spring - temperature 38 degrees!)

Jim and JoAnn