Sunday, December 4, 2011

                                       Sister Linda Quarnberg's seminary class at Eielson AFB.
                        Enjoying refreshments after the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.

Our Alaskan Nativity

Sunset over the mostly frozen Chena River at 3:30 PM

This past week we had a chance to visit with Sister Quarnberg's early morning seminary class at the Eilson Air Force Base chapel. All of these students are children of military families stationed at the base. She has a great bunch of young people in her class that seem very attentive and interested in the seminary curriculum. We have seen some young people that for various reasons are just not into early morning seminary. We have some who are not attending and some who attend but just want to put their head down and sleep. It is nice to see a class where everyone is awake and participating. The young people certainly need the in-depth instruction and learning that comes from seminary to strengthen them for the world they have to live in. We get the idea that the protestant/catholic facility there on the air force base "tollerates" the LDS use of their facility because the seminary students and teacher have obvious restrictions on use like having to cover their bulletin board and the LDS information on it after their use. There are signs and posters all around the facility that say "everyone welcome", but that is not quite the case.

You can see from above that we have put out our Arctic Christmas decorations to give our apartment a little Christmas cheer. We also have the 'grand kids garland and need all grand kids (except Jenny's because we already have them) to send a simple home made ornament type decoration for the garland before Christmas. We try to keep our decorations to a minimum even though our land lord Randy Olson offers us any thing we may want to use of his decorations collected over the past thirty years.

As you can see from the wintry picture above of the mostly frozen Chena river things are pretty well frozen up now and will stay that way until spring. There are almost never any days above freezing in the winter here although Sunday it got up to about 35 degrees for a short period of time and made the usually powdery snow turn soft. We have seen snow men pop up in peoples yards that are typically not made because of the powdery snow conditions. The snow men will last until spring just frozen solidly in place.  Our car needed some additional work and was in the local shop this last week. Our relatively new battery was just not up to the sever winter conditions here as well as a few other running problems that would not have been so noticeable in a warmer condition. Cars have to be kept in top running condition here because anything that is weak or on the verge of failing the low temperatures will aggravate and amplify.

We ordered a number of the Mr. Kruger's Christmas video to provide another missionary tool for our branch missionaries to use. We used it last year as a "living Christmas card" as the full time missionaries liked to call it. We hope they will all be distributed and hopefully will engage some in further pursuit of the gospel.

We gathered at the institute for the First Presidency Fireside this last Sunday. We only had about eight students come because of freezing road conditions due to some freezing rain that fell on Sunday and because the total number of YSA in the branch continues to diminish. There is just a trend towards fewer and fewer students at the institute as a result of the smaller numbers over all. We simply do not have as many students coming to Alaska as there have been in the past plus there is a smaller population of YSA in the Fairbanks area as well. The YSA that are here are very faithful and strong young people and will continue to contribute to the church for the rest of their lives. It is truly a great experience to be here in Alaska as missionaries and work with the Seminary and Institute program of the church.

Enjoy the holiday season,
Jim and JoAnn