Monday, July 23, 2012

 Our zone missionaries just before transfers.
 More missionary fun
New sister missionaries for the Young Single Adult Branch

It's been a week of goodbyes and hellos.  On Monday we had a breakfast with all the missionaries in the zone just before a lot of them left to drive to Anchorage to receive new companions and new areas to work in.  We have been so blessed to be able to get to know these great missionaries.  Our zone leaders stayed the same and the district leaders, but we have a lot of new missionaries to get to know.  We now have four sister missionaries in the area and two have been assigned to our Branch.  It's the first time we have had sisters in the branch since we arrived.  They are very excited and have already hit the road running with teaching appointments and lots of visitors to meet.   

On Saturday we attended the funeral of Bro. Mario Gho who died suddenly in his home last Sunday.  Brother Gho was a wonderful man.  He and Sister Gho had been missionaries at the Institute and Sister Gho was teaching institute classes when we arrived.  They invited us to join their family for Thanksgiving dinner just a month after we had arrived.  They have a wonderful family.  Bro. Gho was a kind and gentle man who was always smiling and had a twinkle in his eye that made you know that he was glad to know you.  It's hard to see dear friends leave so quickly.  Mario and Carol Lee had the great opportunity to work in the Anchorage temple together.  Carol Lee was so excited when they received that call.  It's a big commitment to work in the temple that is over 350 miles away for several days each month.  

Today our Branch Presidency was released.  It has been such a great opportunity to work with Randy Olsen in the Branch as well as being his downstairs neighbor.  He has such a love and enthusiasm for the gospel.  I know he has helped so many in the branch become stronger.  Our new branch president is Pres. Terry.  We will have a short time to get to know him.  Gary Holyoak who was a counselor was also released since he will be going to Utah to school in a couple of weeks.  At least I have one more chance to accompany him and Emily next week when they sing in sacrament meeting.

Our classes continue to be one of the highlights of our week.  It is a special blessing to have a student come up to you after class and tell you that the lesson you taught was just what she needed.  We cooked about 11 quarts of minestrone soup and it was totally gone by the end of the night.  (We have had a rainy week, so soup was just what was needed.)  I really enjoy helping with the Munch and Mingle we have on Sundays after our meetings.  We feed about 60-70 people every week.  There is a great committee that is working hard to make things work out without being in the kitchen on Sunday.  I've never baked 30 pounds of potatoes at once before. 

We also had a chance to watch the Pioneer Day broadcast from Salt Lake on Saturday evening.  Several of the young people along with one of the new investigators came as well as a good representation of missionaries.  It was a beautiful program.  

Every day we are more aware of the short time we have left here in Alaska.  There is so much to prepare for next year in seminary and for fall semester in institute.  We are grateful that Pres. and Sister Hull are going to be taking our places and that they have been involved in making some of the decisions that will really affect their service.    With it being a service mission for them, Pres. Hull will still remain in the Stake Presidency.  

We love our association here with the young people.  They are strong and determined.  We are so grateful for the gospel that gives purpose and direction to our lives.  When we loose loved ones, we can be comforted in knowing that this life is not the end.  Families are forever and we are all God's family as well.

With love,
JoAnn and Jim