Monday, August 27, 2012

                                                   At Denali Park with Tina.
                 Denali Park on a cloudy day taken through the bus window.  The colors are beautiful.
                                          See if you can find 2 caribou at Denali Park.
                                        A bull reindeer with his harem on the UAF campus.
Tina at the North Pole with Santa.
                                                   Miranda just after her baptism on Friday.
                                                A birthday cake with Randy and Jerri and Tina.
                                The last Fairbanks Zone picture before transfers.

This has been a delightful week.  We had been busy getting everything ready for seminary to begin on Wednesday morning.  It was fun to see the seminary students come to the Institute to meet their new teachers for the year.  Our new teachers are enjoying their classes.  We have four new teachers in Fairbanks.  It always takes a few days to get everything worked out on the rolls.  We are so grateful that a few classes had students just come that had not registered.  The more the better. 

Tina flew in on Wednesday night and Thursday we left at 5:00 AM to drive to Denali is hopes of having a good day there.  It was so wonderful to see her again.  We had a delightful day and even saw Elder & Sister Hawkins from the Anchorage Institute there as well.  We even saw lots of grizzly bears at a safe distance.  The colors in the park are beautiful.  Fall comes early to the park.

Friday and Saturday we spent some time visiting places close to Fairbanks.  North Pole is always a favorite.  Santa even remembered us from our other visits.  We even got to pick up some seminary materials from Sister Loveless in Salcha and say goodbye to her.  We certainly have come to love and appreciate our seminary teachers. 

On Friday Miranda was baptized and even bore her testimony afterwards.  She is a wonderful girl and is on her way to a life of learning in the church.  We have been amazed at the strength of the young adults that have joined the church while we have been here.  They always talk about how different their lives are now that they have joined the church.  Their lives now have purpose and direction.  I played for two of the musical numbers at Miranda's baptism, and then on Saturday I played for the baptism of a ten-year-old girl, the first in her family to be baptized.  It was beautiful as well.

Saturday morning the young missionaries had a breakfast at the Stake Center.  With transfers today, they like to have fun together before they leave for their new assignments.  I was very touched by the farewell song some of the elders sang for us in Samoan.  We will greatly miss the missionaries and hope to see them again at reunions. 

Sunday we were asked to share our testimonies in the Branch sacrament meeting.  Everything is coming to a close so quickly.  We will have some training with the Hulls who are replacing us this week and on Friday we start our long trek home.  We feel so much a part of the Branch and the seminary and institute program here that our leaving will be bitter-sweet.

We are scheduled to speak in our sacrament meeting at home on October 14.  It has been such a blessing to be able to serve the Lord as missionaries.   As we end this chapter, we look forward to being with our family and friends at home once again. 

Love to all,
JoAnn & Jim