Monday, May 23, 2011

                                                  A beautiful sunset last week about midnight. 
                                                 This week all the leaves are out on the trees.
                                    At the Anchorage Temple with Stephen and Kendra Tibbs and
                                 Melanie and Travis Payton - two of our temple preparation couples.
            At the zoo with Shalae, Gavin, Soren, Daniel, Maren, and Savannah Lund.
                                                          The grey wolf of Alaska.
                                                            The Dahl sheep.
                                                     A brown or grizzly bear.
                                                       A black bear.
                              The end of the Matanuska glacier.
                                      The Matanuska glacier begins in the canyons at the far left.

     We were in Anchorage this week for the temple sealing of Kendra and Stephen as shown above. We had the opportunity to teach Kendra in the temple preparation class, and both of them were also in our eternal marriage class. As a married couple they will not be attending the YSA branch any longer.  Kendra asked if they could still attend institute class, and of course we told her they surely could. Spring has finally arrived here in Alaska, and Anchorage as well as Fairbanks have now greened up nicely and the forest has taken on an entirely new look. Both JoAnn and I have observed how it feels like a totally different place from the frozen winter conditions. We drove back from Anchorage via the Glenn highway which is a scenic by way (as if all of Alaska were not that way). The highway works it's way through spectacular snow capped and glaciated mountains of the Alaska Range. It was a very pleasant drive.
     In Anchorage we stayed with a member family by the name of Lund. Sister Lund is a cousin of one of the young single adults working in Fairbanks who made the connections for us to stay with the family. The Lunds have five great children, and we just acted as surrogate grandparents to them. We went to the Anchorage zoo with sister Lund and the kids for a couple of hours and had a great time. The pictures of the animals above were all taken at the zoo, not in our back yard.  We stopped at Chillis restaurant in Anchorage to check with the girl that was interested in the church we gave her more information on the local missionaries and encouraged her to contact them. We will give her some time to see if she does before our next follow-up.
     We had a YSA fireside tonight where Pres. and sister Wood spoke of their mission to Africa and their pending assignment as mission President in South Africa. They talked about the explosive growth of the church in Africa and of the faithfulness and missionary zeal of the new members there. They said the YSA branch in southern Africa had 30 baptisms during the year they were there compared to the 12 or so per year that our YSA branch in Fairbanks has averaged. Pres. Wood said he was sure a lot of the difference has to do with the distractions of prosperity we have in the USA. We continue to have young people return from college and others coming to work for the summer in Alaska so the branch continues to grow. We are going to have to learn a whole new batch of names for the summer institute that resumes this week.
     Being with the Lund family makes us  more aware of how much we love and miss our grandchildren.

Jim and JoAnn