Sunday, November 20, 2011

      This is one of the 'extra' cars the mission maintains here in Fairbanks. We are currently driving it.
              The frozen north winter has fully settled in and this is a view down our driveway on the hill.
                     Pumpkins carved at Halloween are now quite solidly frozen and will be until spring.
             Our outside doorway entrance is an auxiliary refrigerator that stays at 20 to 30 below freezing.
      This is an ulu knife that everyone uses here to chop stuff. It was invented by the natives a long time ago.
                The twenty thousand foot Denali from our hill looking across the Tanana valley at sunset.
Our early Christmas decorations in our apartment consisting of a garland and pictures of the grandkids.
Notice there is space for MORE grandchildren's picture/decoration. It will be like an angel tree. We will pick one of the grandchildren's ornament at random and they will receive all of our inheritance! Of course that means they will just inherit all of our bills!

The reason we are driving the other car is that our suburban would not turn over the other day even though it was plugged in overnight to heat the engine block. We do not know why it would not start until we had it jumped. So our mechanic is checking it our. Maybe it was because it was 30 below zero?  It is interesting the brand new jeep whatever it is does not ride as smoothly as our now ten year old suburban but at least we have the extra car. You will notice the extension cord that plugs in the engine block heater!

That pumpkin carved by the YSA truly will stay frozen all winter and makes a nice November decoration at the institute. We saw some pumpkins on  porch last winter that lasted the full winter frozen solid. The turkey frozen and hanging on our back porch is for JoAnn to cook for some of the YSA who have no family up here or have not been invited to another family for dinner. We will be having Thanksgiving dinner for them here at our place this year.

The "ulu" knife is an interesting Alaskan item that every home has to have. They are very efficient for chopping vegetables and great for cutting pizza. The one in the picture has a handle made of whale bone that is very old. The round wood bowl helps to keep in place whatever you are cutting in place while providing a chopping block surface as well. 

From the hill we live on, it is only occasionally that we get a clear spectacular view of Denali. It is spectacular when it is out and it is always interesting to view on our way to church or the institute.  To the left of the picture and out of view the entire Alaska range was also visible and it makes those mountains look very close even though they are over 100 miles away and Denali is over 150 miles away.  You can tell where the city of Fairbanks is down below us by the many exhaust moisture plums from furnaces.

We taught the lesson at family night this week and played the classic talk of Hugh B. Brown, "Profile of a Prophet". It is truly a great witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his miraculous accomplishments. I remember using that talk when I was a young missionary.  Family home evening was at Trisha's apartment, and being a lawyer herself, she was impressed.  I think all of our lessons at family home evening are for her benefit and instruction.  She continues to attend church and learn as much as she can.  We hope some day she will have the desire to be baptized. 

At church today we went on the 30 below zero reduced schedule where we omit the middle portion of the block. If it gets down to 40 below zero then we would have sacrament meeting only, and if it gets below 50 below zero we would just have the sacrament ordinance for those brave enough to come to church in those conditions. We have been asked about out institute policy in terms of temperatures but as of now we do not have one in place. Last Thursday it was 30 below zero at night and we only had a few students. JoAnn made hot chicken dumpling soup that was appreciated by all who came. It is great to see the faithfulness of many of the YSA in the area. As some say, "the frozen chosen". Seminary classes were cancelled three days this week because of the temperature.  The work of the Lord continues here in Alaska.

As we all count our blessings this week, we are grateful for the opportunity we have to be here in Alaska and serving the Lord in our small way.  We appreciate the blessing of a wonderful family and wonderful friends.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Jim and JoAnn