Sunday, February 26, 2012

 Last Sunday night we captured some more aurora pictures.  There is a house in the bottom right and a tower with red lights in the center facing north.
This is the south end of the horizon with Mars.  The aurora made a band across the entire sky.
         On preparation day, the elders and sisters in the Zone had a cook-off.  The judges are on the right.
We invited the zone leaders for dinner on Wednesday.  They serve at the Branch.
                                   This ice musk ox is in the entrance to the international ice festival.
                                      A couple of squirrels are waiting for the ice festival to begin.
                  These two young moose were across the street from our apartment as we returned home.
You can see on the tree where this moose was chewing off bark for dinner.
     The branch had a carnival on Saturday.  These young adults are getting ready for a three-legged race.

This week has been filled with fun and great classes.  We were excited last Sunday to see the aurora again although it was not quite as spectacular.  It's an amazing sight nevertheless.  We drove a little ways to the top of the hill we live on to get a clearer view of the sky.  There is no way to describe the beauty of the northern lights in the night sky. 

Monday the zone came to the institute for preparation day.  They decided to have a cook-off complete with judges (those who forgot to bring something to cook or didn't know about it.)  These missionaries love mixing spices together to make the best burgers or fancy baked chicken or even a raspberry chocolate cake in a dutch oven in the parking lot.  It's wonderful to see how much they enjoy being together. 

Tuesday was class in the evening.  It's been wonderful to study the doctrines of the gospel in depth and read quotes from past and present general authorities giving us great insights.  We even had a seminary student come with his mom.  He really seemed to enjoy it. 

Wednesday was a little frustrating for me.  I had called the "help desk" in Salt Lake for some help with a computer problem.  However, by the end of the day on Tuesday the computer wouldn't even let me log on!
After a wonderful devotional over the phone with the missionary couples in Anchorage, I called for more help.  I was on the phone for about 5 hours getting things taken care of.  Finally they were able to get me on and restore all my files.  I was glad that Wednesday was not filled with classes and that I had the time to have things worked on.  Computers are such a blessing, but they can also try our patience at times. 

On the way home, we decided to find the new site of the World Ice Art Championships.  There are a few sculptures at the entrance ready to greet visitors.  The official sculpturing begins on Feb. 28 and goes for three weeks into March.  They had cameras online last year so that you could watch the work in progress.  The weather has been warmer, but still under freezing and above zero most of the time.  As we drove up the road to our apartment, we saw two moose eating branches and tree bark in the neighbor's yard.  They looked like young moose.  It's always interesting to see them. 

Thursday was busy with classes and cooking.  We love to associate with the young people here and enjoy teaching classes.   By the end of the day, we are ready to go home and go to bed.  This week I decided to try tacos.  It was a good idea along with the cinnamon rolls, of course. 

Saturday was wonderful.  The Stake Relief Society had a conference from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  There were wonderful classes to participate in all afternoon.  The theme of the conference was "A Step by Step Guide to Stepping Up!"  Rather than making us feel overwhelmed, we were encouraged to find small things we can do to help us improve a step at a time.  We were encouraged to set one goal that we could start with.  It was wonderful to see so many people that have become our friends in Alaska.  It is a blessing to hear them testify that joining the church was the greatest thing they ever did.

In the evening, the branch had a carnival.  Elder Spens offered to set up a little magic show.  He developed additional "illusions" that he had not tried before.  Some were quite baffling.  I'm sure he will be anxious to show the grandkids what he has learned.  It was a fun evening complete with cotton candy, snow cones, fish pond and lots of games.  We had a good response and lots of fun together. 

Today there was a wonderful spirit in our sacrament meeting.  Elder Spens was among the speakers. With four speakers, he chose to give a brief testimony of the importance to keeping covenants with the Lord.  The other young speakers gave heart-felt talks about how covenants have blessed their lives.  It was not easy for them to share their experiences.  The Lord will always keep His promises. It is up to us to remember and keep our promises.  That is what the gospel is all about--helping ourselves and others come closer to Christ every day.  

Have a wonderful week.
JoAnn and Jim