Monday, May 21, 2012

 These are the Chugach mountains close to the sea on our way to the city of Valdez. We drove over Thompson pass that gets over 900 inches of show in the winter months.
                     This is the Worthington glacier in late spring still covered in the heavy winter snow.
                         A large moose in a meadow by the roadside setting eating the water foliage.
 Elder Spens by the side of an old sea going fishing boat on display in the city of Valdez. It is truly a fishing mecca.
                      Sister Spens took this picture of two bald eagles circling above our car in Valdez.
The sister missionaries working in Valdez taken on the sea side dock. They love the people and area of Valdez and hope to stay there for a long time.
The black bears were out on the lower ridges of the Valdez mountains. A cub and its mother grazing. The bears are just coming out of hibernation and we watched them from a good distance.
 This small herd of Caribou  were grazing alongside the Richardson highway that connects Fairbanks to the city of Valdez. We had to slow down several times for Caribou to cross the road.

We traveled to Valdez this week to visit with the sisters working there and to pick up a little fresh halibut as well. The trip down was great and we had mostly sunny weather. The journey down passes through Delta Junction and Glenallen which we have been to before. However, we had never been to the city of Valdez. It is truly a spectacular city nestled in a deep water fiord and surrounded by snow-covered mountains that rise to seven thousand feet above sea level. It is a fishing town as well as the terminal city for the end of the trans-Alaskan pipeline. 

The sisters showed us around town a bit and took us to the members house where we spent the night. We found that just like any place in the world where there are faithful members of the church you can quickly bond with those members. The family we stayed with took us on a driving tour of the city of Valdez. One of the most notable sights was the old town of Valdez that was simply an empty field next to the harbor on very low land. In 1964 a tsunami from the great Alaskan earthquake completely destroyed the city and they have rebuilt the town on higher ground. They now have a tsunami warning system and high ground evacuation areas in the event of another tsunami. Valdez was just a great place to visit with great scenery and great people as well. 

We also started our summer institute schedule with instruction in the Pearl of Great Price. We had our class here in Fairbanks and we will start our summer class in Healy next week. Our institute summer schedule is abbreviated due to the busy schedule of the YSA and the fact that even though the YSA branch has doubled in size with summer seasonal workers up from the lower 48 we will not have many of them attending institute. We will likely not have any day classes as well since many of our UAF students will be working full day time shifts during the summer. 

We have also planted a little container vegetable garden to give Alaskan cool weather and short growing season gardening a try again. We only have cool weather plants and small cherry tomatoes so we will see how it goes. 

Under the direction of the Stake President, today the branch started having munch and mingle after our meeting block.  It was a simple dinner prepared ahead of time for the YSA. It turned out well and I think the young people greatly appreciated the meal and the chance to socialize for an hour after the block of meetings. It even increased the number that stayed for choir practice. The branch president spoke in sacrament meeting to the topic of keeping the sabbath day holy and reminded us of the significance of the sabbath day as a sign between us and God of our willingness to be obedient to the commandments. It has been and will always be a sign of God's covenant people. 

As we enter the summer season here in Fairbanks we are looking forward to teaching the YSA and our continued association with them. 

Elder and Sister Spens