Friday, December 14, 2012

Farewell Alaska

 Friends at the goodbye party that they held at the Institute for us.
 More dear friends in the young single adults.
 Pyramid Lake in Jasper Park, Canada.
 Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada.
The new Calgary Alberta Temple to be dedicated in October 2012.

 Aunt Sarah in Magrath.
 The Cardston Temple
 Glacier National Park.
 Mike and Patrick's families were there to welcome us back home.
 Welcome home signs made by the grandkids.
Most of the grandkids at a welcome home party at Jenny's house. (Lots of silly faces.)

Our mission has come to an end.  It is wonderful to remember the dear friends we made in
Fairbanks and the experiences we were blessed to have had.  Before leaving, a farewell party was held for us at the institute.  It was a bit overwhelming to see so many friends come from the Stake as well as from the Branch and Institute.  After living in Fairbanks almost two years, we felt almost like it was where we belonged.  However, family and friends  were beckoning us back home to Utah.  It was so helpful when some of our young men with strong backs helped us load everything in the car.  There was not an inch to spare.
Our trip home was very enjoyable.  We were able to see so many beautiful places on our trip down the Al-Can Highway.  We added more wildlife to our list of animal sightings--black bears, buffalo, rock sheep, lynx, and more.  We also added a very large rock chip to our windshield that scattered glass inside the car as well.  Just another souvenir in our adventure. 
Along the way, we stopped to see the beauties of the parks in Alberta, Canada.  Going through the Yukon Territory was much like traveling in Alaska.  There were so many thick forests and beautiful mountains.  The scenery was spectacular.  After leaving Jasper and Banff National Parks we drove out into the Alberta prairie.  It was a blessing to see the new Calgary temple almost completed.  The temples are so important to us and to members of the Church. We love the temples. 
We took time to stop in Magrath where we stopped and were able to find Aunt Sarah in a care center.  It was nice to be able to spend some time wih her.  She is 99 years old.  We talked of the fun times we had when JoAnn was much younger when we visited our Grandparents and Uncle Clarence and Aunt Sarah along with Brent and Ricky our cousins in Magrath.  It was hard to leave knowing we might not see her again in this life.
We were also able to go to a session in the Cardston Temple.  JoAnn wanted to go to her "family's temple" and feel the spirit there.  As a family we would stop on our trips to Magrath to see the temple when we were children.  It was a blessing to be there.
After leaving Alberta, we drove through Glacier National Park.  We were surprised that the glaciers there were so much smaller than we remembered.  The mountains are spectacular.  What a beautiful world we have to live in.  We also drove along the side of Flathead Lake in Montana.  It was beautiful as well.  We did notice as we drove home, that the days were getting much shorter.  The sun was setting much earlier in the evening. 
When we arrived home there were yellow ribbons and signs all over the yard.  The grandkids had all been busy getting ready for our arrival.  Some of the family were waiting for us while othes continued to arrive.  It was truly wonderful to see them all again.  A couple of days later, we had a big party at Jenny's home with everyone there. It gave us a chance to hand out Alaska t-shirts and kuspuks (Eskimo dresses) and ulu knives that Jim put together in Fairbanks.  It was a joy to be with all of our family once again. 
After being home for a few months, we miss our friends and the adventure of Alaska, but are enjoying our continuing adventure at home with family and friends here.  What a blessing it has been for us.  Something we will never forget. The gospel is true and Jesus Christ is the Savior who lives and loves us all. 
With love,
JoAnn and Jim