Tuesday, April 24, 2012

           At the home of Dale and Alisa Hardy, some wonderful members who invited us for dinner.
                                          This is a piece of artwork called the solar borealis.
                   That is the frozen Tanana river and the Nenana Classic tower sitting on the ice.
                         The clock house and connecting tower for the tower as shown above.
               A view from the Parks Highway looking south to the Alaska range with Mt. McKinley in the center. Probably 200 miles away.  (Notice the trees are still bare.  We expect everything to "green up" in a week or so.)
This is the Fairbanks zone elders and sisters on transfer day just after lunch and just before departure to Anchorage to complete all of the transfers. Four of the elders above are being transferred out and one of the sisters. They all travel to the mission office in Anchorage to accommodate the transfer process. It takes the better part of two days for all travel and completion of transfers. Everyone seems exited about the moves. Two of the elders transferring have been in the Fairbanks zone for nine months. The institute has been a hub of missionary activity since we arrived and that was not the case in the past. We have just opened up the institute building to all missionary activity. We are looking forward to meeting the new elders and the new sister in a couple of days.

The pictures of the Nenana ice classic above are an interesting yearly activity. They build the black and white tower on the frozen Tanana river in February when the ice is four feet thick. Then they wait until the break up of the river in late April or May and when the tower falls down it trips a signal that gives the exact time that the tower falls. Some times the river will break up early with several feet of ice and it is a thunderous event. Other times is is just a slow melting process where the ice finally gets so thin that the tower just falls. Since no one knows when it will fall lottery tickets are sold where you guess the exact date and time of the tower movement and the winner or winners share in prize money. It has been going on since 1917.

The solar Borealis pictured above is just outside the Fairbanks airport and is an artistic sculpting with special reflective material attached so as to reflect the colors of the rainbow and thus the name solar borealis. If you look closely you can see green to the left, pink to the right and blue on the top.  The colors change with the light.
The attendance at our main  institute class on Thursday has begun to climb because of returning missionaries and arriving workers for the summer tourist season. It is great to have an increase in class size as well as having non-members attending as well. The young people here are constantly inviting and bringing their friends to institute and to the YSA branch meetings. The young people are starting to go over to the stake center after institute and play volley ball as well after institute class and the food gathering. The volley ball, the food and the institute classes all combine to be great attractors for the YSA.

This past weekend we traveled to the small town of Anderson to visit and early morning seminary class. We went down early and attended church meetings at the Tamarack branch in Nenana. We then had a wonderful dinner at a members house along with the young elders who are teaching two young girls who will be baptized in May. We stayed over night at an old lodge just outside of Anderson. It was pretty well run down and for sale. We stayed in a 'cabin' as they called it. It was very old and run down but it sufficed for the night. The interesting thing that happened when we arrived at the cabin after dinner at the members was that the facility had no toilet paper or tissues so JoAnn went to the office to ask for some.  (It's me now.)  One of the lodge owners  started asking about what church group we were with.  I was able to explain that we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called the Mormons.  He asked where the church came from.  When I told him it was organized in New York, he was very surprised.  I asked if he was interested in knowing how the church came to be.  He said he was, so I proceeded to tell him about Joseph Smith and how he wanted to know which church he should join.  I told him about Joseph Smith's vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ and how he was told he would be an instrument in restoring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth.  I told him about the Book of Mormon and asked him if he would like a copy to read.  Unfortunately, we didn't have an extra copy in the car, so he asked if I would send him one. It was a privilege for me to bear my testimony to him and see his interest in what I said.  Maybe we were supposed to stay there.  We never know when we will be able to share our testimonies with others.

Have a wonderful week!
Jim and JoAnn