Monday, June 6, 2011

                              JoAnn and Tammy Duval celebrate being survivors at the Relay for Life.
                              Tammy is also a breast cancer survivor and is the Stake President's wife.
                                    The tomato plant is loving the greenhouse in the backyard.
                                  We are now officially green.  This is our driveway up to our house.
                                          These wild roses grow along many of the roads here.
                             Tiny Forget Me Nots, the Alaska state flower, growing in our backyard.

     As you can see above Alaska has fully turned into summer. The interior has turned warm and we are experiencing wildfires that burn fiercely through the heavy black spruce forests. There is a large fire to the north of Fairbanks and another to the south. Some days have been smokey in the large Tanana valley of which we are part but other days are clear and beautiful. There are 47 forest fires burning in Alaska.  The tourists have started to arrive in Fairbanks in large numbers as well as the young people who are working in the tourist industry.  Our Elders quorum is now the largest in the stake and that will continue through September. This is the Alaska that everyone wants to see and experience, and it is beautiful and pleasant here. It is like living in the midst of a forest. We are told to enjoy summer while it is here because fall ends in September and winter starts in October.
     Also above is our little garden. Most vegetable gardening in done in greenhouses because the soil is very cold and does not promote growth of tomatoes and zucchini etc. There are areas of Fairbanks that have permafrost as well. Our garden will be an experiment to see what we can produce. Apparently the long hours of sunshine compensate for the cool days and cool soil so we will see how it goes. It has been nice to have a landlord who is a member and is very willing to share and help to make our stay here peasant. Randy and Jerri Olsen have become good friends not just our landlord. We have a lot in common with them and enjoy their company.
     After the Relay for Life (we walked a few laps) we were taken out to dinner by the stake president and his wife. We had a great time and got to know them better. Interestingly enough the stake president Shane Duvall was a fifth grade student attending Marsac Elementary School in Park City in 1967-68 while I was teaching at Park City High School just across town. Also President Duvall's mother is from  Lund just west of Ely Nevada!  
     We are expanding our institute program as well this summer semester. We have the class with the Pearl of Great Price at the institute building here in Fairbanks on Thursday night and then a class in Denali for all of the YSA employees working there. We have a couple called to teach that class since it is two hours away.  We will be starting a new PofGP class in the town of Delta Junction  about an hour and one half away) that we will teach on Wednesday evening. Its nice to have at least a small increase in the number of classes taught. 
     Our fast and testimony meeting today was very active with large numbers of YSA wanting to bear their testimonies. They just all are very enthusiastic about the gospel even those who have been in the church for only a short time. Our large elders quorum is filled with returned missionaries. One of the young men who we meet in our neighborhood the other day was carrying his sales material in a folder on one side and on the other side he had copies of the Book of Mormon and tracts so if he could not sell an alarm system he could talk to the people about the gospel. He said he had one referral that day to give to the local elders.
     We are doing well and enjoying our work here in the Alaska mission.We are continually blessed to be able to work with the young single adults in Fairbanks. We also have two anniversaries coming up this week. Our 44th wedding anniversary and every time a 4th of the month rolls around we add another month to our service here and this month will be number 8.

Jim and JoAnn