Sunday, August 21, 2011

                                  Our friend Greg Bishop, Northwest area director & Elder Spens
                                          Elder Ulu'ave         Adam Olguin      Elder Gledhill
Fall is in the air here in Alaska with colors arriving in the vegetation.

                                               Zone conference at the Institute
                                                More fall colors in the Birch trees leaves.
Here we are back at the Institute.
             After removing the old wall covering and moldings this is the new look of the institute building.        
             We have noticed that the pictures stand out much better with the white painted walls.
     The flowers are truly amazing here in Fairbanks. This huge dahlia is a result of the long period of sunshine here in the north. Even though the summers are cool the number of daylight hours is a great compensator for plant growth. It is as green here even in the interior of Alaska as any place on earth. It just requires varieties of vegetation that are winter hardy to 50 or 60 below zero.  It truly has been a wonderful place to be in the summer. It is just endless green. The local residents tel us that winter snows can start any time after the first of September so we shall see.
     On Tuesday, our area director, Greg Bishop came to visit for the day.  We had one day to show him the sights here in Fairbanks and introduce him to a student, a seminary teacher, and Pres. Payton who is in over the seminaries and the institute as a member of our stake presidency.  After a tour of our building, we were able to visit the UAF Large Animal Research Station and see the musk oxen and caribou and reindeer there.  We went to visit the Morris Thompson Center, but the displays were closed for repairs.  However, we enjoyed a very interesting film about living alone in the wilds of Alaska.  We took a quick trip to see the oil pipeline and enjoyed a wonderful meal with the Paytons.   It was a busy day, but we learned many things and truly enjoyed our time with Bro. Bishop. 
     We are now totally back into the redecorated institute building. It is good to be back and not have to work out of our apartment. It is a great blessing for the YSA to have the facility of the institute building. It was built 14 years ago and was in need of new carpet and some new paint and hopefully it will last for the next 14 years of use.
     Adam's baptism was on Wednesday.  It is wonderful to see the changes in the lives of those who accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and are willing to follow His example and be baptized into His restored church.
     We are starting to see the YSA who are working here for the summer leave. Some are going back to school in the lower 48 and some are just going back home. Our branch will definitely be smaller within the next couple of weeks, and we have no idea how many new students will show up for the fall semester at institute classes. We are conducting an official registration, however we we will not know officially until the first week or two of class how many will be attending. Early morning seminary started this week as well and JoAnn has been busy with the distribution of the curriculum materials to our 14 units. We have also had request from two additional families in the outlying areas to provide home seminary to their students. With stake approval they can do this then we provide the materials and training for the new teachers.
     We had a stake priesthood meeting where the theme was the subject of joy.  It was emphasized that our greatest joy in this life comes from our family, obedience to the gospel and service to the Lord. I remember our new mission president, Pres. Beesley, in our first interview with him asking us if we were happy.  We are certainly finding joy and happiness in the service of the Lord here in the Alaska mission and especially with our assignment at the institute and with the early morning seminary program here. We also find great joy in working with the YSA in many capacities. 

We send our love to all of you.  
Jim and JoAnn