Monday, July 2, 2012

 Our last chance to stay at the mission home in Anchorage.
 We're not sure what these bright wildflowers are.
 Wild geraniums are seen for miles along the highway.
 At the Anchorage Temple.
 These lupines were so beautiful along the roadside.
 The fire weed is just starting to bloom.
 Yellow lupine mixed with white yarrow.
 Some unusual pink yarrow along the highway.
Garrett the crusty summer sailor was home on leave for a week.

The flowers pictured above look like some from someones well tended perenial garden, however they are just the roadside wild flowers that grace the highways of Alaska in the summer. They appear to be about at their peak at this time. The fire weed has just barely started to bloom but will fill the roadsides for most of the rest of the summer. As I have mentioned before living in Alaska is like being in the mountains and forest every day. Our drive to the institute each day is a drive through the woods with a spectacular view of the wildflowers as well. 

This past week we had one of the largest family night groups we have ever had as we met together at the institute building. The YSA want to meet all together probably for social reasons, however the group is so large that they also decided they would divide into three groups for a family night lesson and then socialize in a larger group. We have investigators and non-member visitors coming to our family night as well as the YSA elders. Pictured above is also Garrett who spends his summer fishing for crabs in the Bering sea. His employer has recognized something special about him as a worker on their fishing vessel. He is a recent convert as well as a returned missionary. We did not see him at all last summer. but he had a few days of shore leave and came to sacrament meeting and family night.

We had a good group at our Healy (Denali) branch institute class on Wednesday including two non-member visitors. We enjoy the weekly drive down to Healy and the class is great. We are continuing to seek more YSA to attend the class.

The branch YSA had an assignment to do baptisms at the Anchorage temple so we went down to the temple for what appears to be our last trip not only to the temple but the Anchorage area. We have finally become very familiar with the temple and always meet friends there that we have meet during our mission. We thought we may never be in that temple again, so we were sure to take the picture above standing in the front garden area of the temple grounds. The temple is a great blessing to us and to our entire family and it is wonderful to have a temple here even though we live 360 miles away!

We literally have but two months remaining of our time to serve here as missionaries. We have many things to finish and accomplish before we return to our home in Sandy. We are about half way through the institute summer semester and continue to enjoy the opportunity to be on a teaching mission. We are also in need of training the five new seminary teachers that are yet to be called by the stake that will need to be prepared to start teaching this fall. In-service training and early morning seminary visits have also been a highlight of our mission. We truly love being missionaries and all that that entails and can clearly see that when our service is over we will leave with mixed emotions with leaving the many YSA we have come to love and the other faithful members of the church in the Fairbanks stake which, by the way, may very well be the largest stake in terms of geographical size in the United States. It is probably about three times the size of the state of Utah. We pray for the Lord's blessings to be upon all of our family at home and upon any one else who may read our mission blog. 

Elder and Sister Spens