Sunday, January 8, 2012

We live in the endless forest of the interior of Alaska and this time of year it is truly a winter wonderland of perfectly white snow on the ground, trees and roads. There is no dirty snow anywhere only whiteness.  (This is especially for you in Utah who are missing a snowy winter.  Note there is no bright sun shining on the snow.)
Sister Spens and Sister Rivera in the institute kitchen. The kitchen is a great gathering place not only for the young adults but the young missionaries as well.
This is a picture of a picture of Joe Verhagaen taken on his front steps in the town of Nenana. He is in the MTC in Utah preparing to go to what used to be the Eastern States Mission (in 1962-64) but now is many missions, and he is going to the New York City South Mission.
This last picture is kind of a farewell shot of Hannah and Mallory as Hannah was leaving to go to BYU Idaho and Mallory is preparing to leave for a full time mission in Brazil in a month when her visa arrives.  

The interior of Alaska is truly a beautiful place to be in the winter because it is really a wonderland of white. It would be kind of like living in the high Uinta mountains if they were flat and the snow was only one foot deep. Winter is absolutly intriguing and the extreme cold just adds to the uniqueness of the land. Where else in the world is the gospel affected by the temperature? If it is below 30 degrees early morning seminary is canceled and the Sunday block of meetings is reduced to just sacrament meeting. At 50 below all Sunday meetings are canceled. 

We saw  a moose the other day by the UAF campus. The moose herd stays in the heavily forested section of Fairbanks and so they are not seen to often, but they are there and just wander and browse on twigs all winter. Their physiology requires that they stay on the move. We have had tracks in our yard where they have crossed the property.  

Speaking of the kitchen above Sister Spens made cookies for the CES fireside at the institute tonight where Elder Jay Jensen spoke of the subject of the Holy Ghost. He gave a marvelous discourse on the significance of the Holy Ghost to us as members of the church. Having the Holy Ghost as our guide in teaching has been uppermost on our minds  in our CES teaching mission. 

The last couple of pictures just reaffirm the importance of our relationships with the young single adults while serving here. They are truly the light and life of our missionary experience whether they are young new converts or investigators or young adults preparing to serve missions or returned missionaries, they all are great people to work with. To set an example for and to teach them is a great challenge. They are truly the strength of the church for the coming years. Those family members who read this also need to know that as our children (and their spouses) and grandchildren are also the light and life of our lives. We constantly pray for the Lord to bless you and all of your families to have the Lord's spirit with you to bless and strengthen your families.

Elder and Sister Spens (or Mom and Dad)