Sunday, October 2, 2011

Zone Conference in Fairbanks one week before transfers.  Elder William R. Walker and his wife Vickie in the center back.

Sisters' conference in the mission home in Anchorage.
Prudhoe Bay--the beginning point of the oil pipeline taken from an airplane.
Seminary in Barrow, Jaden Nethercott, Pavel Hernandez, and Bro. Todd Henke.
It's windy in Barrow!
The Arctic Ocean with the top of a whale skull bone on the beach (with frozen puddles.)
A typical scene in Barrow with snow!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Barrow, Alaska.

      You will notice that there are 20 young elders in the Fairbanks zone pictured above. The zone is a good part of the mission. Geographically it is very large although most of the missionaries pictured are working within a thirty mile radius of Fairbanks proper.  Elder Walker was here for three days touring the mission however, he was only in three areas Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau. If he were to tour the entire mission with its remote villages and isolated areas he would have been here for two or three weeks. You will notice that Elder Spens is not in the picture because I was doing automobile inspection out in the parking lot. 
     We went through Prudhoe Bay on our way to Barrow this time. Prudhoe Bay is just one big oil field and it is a processing point for the beginning of the trans-Alaska oil line. It is a town if you will filled with workers of the oil industry. About half the men on our flight got off the plane at Prudhoe Bay to go to work.
     The last 5 pictures are of our trip to Barrow. Barrow is the furthest north city in the U.S.A. and the early morning seminary may very well be the furthest north early morning seminary in the world. Barrow is at 71 degrees north latitude. Winter starts there early and we were there for the very beginning as the snow came and the ground started to freeze. Bro. Henke picks up the seminary students each morning transports them to class and then after to the high school where he works as an industrial arts teacher. They have a very new and fully equipped high school with all of the latest technology as well as  full woodworking , automotive and metals shops. It is all paid for by monies that come into the North Slope Burroughs native Indian fund from oil and gas profit sharing. The fall whaling season was soon to get under way and is a big thing for the subsistence life style of the natives. They harvest about 10 bow-head whales each fall and all of the surrounding villages share in the meat and whale blubber. Barrow has no grass or trees or shrubs. It is just dirt that was mud when we were there and was thankfully starting to freeze so things are cleaner in the winter. The edge of the Arctic Ocean is a gravely beach with an occasional bow head whale skull displayed. It is usually overcast and windy in Barrow and warms up to a balmy 40 to 60 degrees in the summer which is July and August. 
  We are now back home and this week returned to a typical week of teaching institute classes here in Fairbanks. We have started a program of live video streaming the evening institute classes so that anyone in the remote areas can via the stake web site watch the class. We are just getting started in this area  as was recommended by the stake presidency.  They use this system for stake conference and also use it with a secure feed for their high council meetings.
     This week end we had conference sessions at the institute building and includes a breakfast/brunch for the young adults between sessions. Remember with our 2 hour time differential we started the sessions at 8:00am so our break is between 10 and 12. We had investigators attending all of the sessions. We certainly enjoyed the conference broadcasts and the good food as well. JoAnn and I enjoy our association not only with the YSA but also the recently baptized members as well as the investigators that we have a chance to talk with. Those who are investigating the church seem to add a certain vitality to the church with there enthusiasm as well as questions about the gospel. These young investigator/converts add considerably to the joy of our mission experience. 

Jim and JoAnn