Sunday, August 28, 2011

                                         The suburban after driving 100 miles on a wet dirt road.
                                          Sandhill cranes at the crane festival in Creamer's Field
                                               I'll be back in the spring after winter in Mexico.
Creamer's Field Migratory Bird Refuge.  There were more Canada geese than Sandhill cranes.  
                                       Elder & Sister Spens with new convert Cortnee Adams in Healy
                                A view of a glacier and beautiful fall scenery on the Denali Highway
                                   100 miles of relatively smooth dirt road - the Denali Highway
                                    A closer view of one of the many glaciers of the Alaska Range

We had an adventurous week this week.  The weather was quite nice with only occasional storms, so we decided to take the trip to Healy to deliver some materials to a new seminary teacher.  We stopped in Denali to find directions and were glad to see Cortnee Adams working in the gift shop of the Princess Lodge there.  She was so happy to see us.  We were able to conduct her baptismal interview earlier this summer, but were not able to be at her baptism.  Things are going very well for her.  She is so happy.  On the way home, we took the scenic way home over 100 miles of dirt road that is only open in the summer.  It was a long trip, but it was great to see more of the beauties of Alaska. The road was above the tree line for a lot of the time, so we saw plains covered with beautiful colors.  Fall had definitely arrived in that part of Alaska.  (It took Elder Spens several tries to get the car clean again.)

We are getting excited about the new classes that will start this week at the Institute.  We are going to offer classes that haven't been offered for a while.  We are also going to add another night class on Tuesdays for those who are not able to come on Thursday.  We have also decided to teach a Book of Mormon class for adult members of the stake as well as students on Friday in the day time.   Right now we are just crossing our fingers that students will come.  We have faith that they will and that we will have a wonderful semester.  On Sundays, we are teaching a Temple Preparation class to two couples who are getting married in October, and a missionary who had received his call to Brazil.  It is a great blessing for us to share our testimonies of the blessings we can receive through temple ordinances.  How blessed we are to have temples again on the earth.  We feel great peace in knowing that our family can be together forever through obedience to the gospel. 

Thursday the young elders came for district meetings.  It is always so much fun to be around them and feel their energy and enthusiasm.  (We had Elder Gledhill and Elder Ulu'ave for dinner on Saturday night as well.)  One of the elders brought a big bowl of baked salmon and made salmon burgers with teriyaki  sauce and pineapple slices on them.  They were delicious.  Sister Miller, another seminary teacher, brought us some salmon, cod, and halibut from their family fishing trip.   It is an adventure for me to learn to cook these wonderful fish.  We are grateful for the generosity of our friends here. 

Saturday afternoon we decided to go to Creamer's Field to the Crane festival.  I wondered how the cranes knew they were invited from 9 am to 5 pm.  The cranes have been at the field for quite a while.  It is a place where they eat and practice flying to build up their muscles for the long flight to Mexico.  It really is fun to watch them.  The Canada geese had also returned.  They were here in the spring.  In fact, it the first sign to spring to see a Canada goose arrive.  They will also be flying south before too long.  

Tonight we attended a fireside for single adults.  President Shane Duval, the Stake President, was the speaker.  He spoke of the love Jesus Christ has for each one of us.  He knows us and wants us to become all that we can.  Even though we make mistakes, he is willing to forgive us as we repent and strive to do better.  He reminded us that even though we are faced with challenges, we can receive guidance and help from the Lord to face hard things.  Christ loves each of us and wants us to return to His presence after this life.  We just have to endure with faith and do our best to follow Him and keep His commandments.  We are so grateful for Christ's atoning sacrifice that allows us to repent and be forgiven. 

Have a wonderful week.
JoAnn and Jim