Monday, May 7, 2012

                     Ravens get very large here in Alaska like these two standing by the side of the road.
Some Alaskans are very creative about what they live in. Like this airplane fuselage that works for a summer home. You enter by simply driving the truck about ten feet forward then climb the stairs. This plane is far away from any airport.
           Elder Poole and his new companion Elder Merrell just after dinner at our apartment.
                         Sister Spens at the institute clean up project along with many YSA helpers.
                                    Chef Doug at the barbeque for the YSA cleanup crews lunch.
                Some of the YSA just before the lunch after the clean up service on Saturday May 5th.

 The entire Fairbanks community has a clean up day to spruce up the community just before the tourist season starts. There is quite a bit of trash on the road side because everyone carries their trash to a pick up point in the back of pickup trucks all winter and a good deal of it flies out. Everyone gets involved with the clean up and things are really looking much better. It is a great community service for the YSA. Some of the YSA also prepared our small flower beds for planting. We will have to wait until the last week in May to avoid the possibility of frost damage.

This week we have been winding up our institute classes for the Spring semester. We had our last Old Testament class this last Thursday as well as our last teachings of the living prophets. Sister Spens tried a brand new soup called Toscana soup that is from the Olive Garden restaurant and it was a great success. Test week is coming up so we take a one week break before the Summer session starts. Classes at the institute are getting larger because of the return of students from college and the influx of seasonal workers coming for the tourist season. Many of the YSA returning to work or from school are young people that we worked with last summer so the reunions are great. Also in the bottom picture is a young man Louis who was baptized Saturday night after the service event. Another girl pictured there is Annie who is moving to Anchorage to work. We certainly do have a constant turnover in the YSA population. Everyone seems to be headed somewhere.

If you check the LDS senior missionary opportunity list currently posted on the church web sight you will find a position for a couple to serve a CES mission in Fairbanks Alaska or in other words our position is now being officially advertized and things are in process to find a replacement for us. It will truly be interesting to see who will take our place and hopefully it will be soon enough that we can give some training to the new CES couple. They  are now officially called S&I (Seminary and Institute) not CES.

The trees are actually starting to turn green as ice breakup season is over and spring is finally coming. The milder temperatures are certainly appreciated. We do not have to plug in the car overnight to keep the engine warm nor do we have to let it idle for twenty minutes to warm the car before driving. The car seems to run better at warmer temperatures as well.

Our greatest joy continues to be our association with the wonderful YSA and the opportunity we have to teach them and set and example for them. We have built many strong relationships with the youth of the church here in Alaska. Our association with the young missionaries is great as well. We are kind of like grandparents to the missionaries. We have provided the institute building for them to use and it is always great to have them around for lunch or district meetings or to have them teach investigators at the institute as well. The YSA as well as the missionaries always seem to have doctrinal question as they grow in their knowledge of the gospel. These question always lead to interesting discussions.

Saturday night we were invited to a great whole pig roast farewell dinner for Sister Laura Bullen who is headed to serve a mission in Brazil.  Then we had a great baptismal service for Louis Hospe that was very well attended by many YSA. Sunday we all gathered for a special CES fireside broadcast where all senior seminary students were invited to attend. Elder Marlin K.Jensen spoke and gave a great spiritual presentation using the sacred grove as an analogy to how we grow spiritually in the church. Sister Spens provided great homemade brownies after we were all spiritually feed with the teaching of a general authority. We continue to enjoy the work of the Lord in the great Alaska mission.

Elder and Sister Spens