And why are they not frozen? Because their hearts are warmed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Welcome to our blog! We hope you enjoy our travels and dialogues as we journey to Anchorage Alaska for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

        We did our P-day stuff first thing today (dusting, vacuuming, cleaning bathroom/kitchen, shopping) so that we could take off this afternoon and do a little exploring.  Apartments are wonderful.  You can clean them in less than an hour.  We drove north through town and up Alaska Highway 1 to Wasilla.  We stopped along the way and took a couple of photos for you, but it was a very grey/white day with snow flurries and low clouds so we didn't get much.

We were just a little ways up the road when Sister Taylor saw some blue domes through the trees.  We found this Russian Orthodox Cathedral just a short way off the highway.  There are lots of churches of every kind here in the Anchorage area - Baptist, Lutheran, First Christian, Greek & Russian Orthodox and various others, including the National Center for the Bahai Faith which is located almost next door to our temple.  The population here is very diverse.  There are 17 languages spoken in our mission, including Spanish, Hmong, Russian, Tongan, Samoan, Tagalog, several different Native American dialects and we even have Elders who speak Navajo.  We have been told that there are over 130 languages represented in the Anchorage School District.           

The Anchorage Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Not a very big temple and not a very good picture.  We'll post another one in the spring.
We also found Mirror Lake on our travels.  Obviously a year-round recreation area.  

These people were on Mirror Lake.  They take their fishing seriously around here!

Don Noel told us about the Moose Kill signs on Highway 1.
Now I guess we'll have to believe him.
The sign says 181 killed this year.

One of the rivers(?) we crossed.
You can see a little water on the right, the rest is frozen over.

...and this is the coolest thing ever.
This is a moose gate, a one-way gate that allows the moose to get off the freeway but not get back on.
And look at those scrawny things the Alaskans call trees.  They look like scrawny Washington State shrubs.

Friday, February 27, 2015

        Well, we are getting into the swing of things.  The first couple of days this week we met with our Mission President and his wife, Pres. & Sister Robinson, and learned what our roles here will be.  There was never much doubt about what Sister Taylor would be doing, but Elder Taylor’s responsibilities were a bit unknown.  At the moment he has been assigned as the Service Specialist, coordinating all the service projects, hours, and reporting of same for the mission.  He’ll be working some with the various JustServe committees around the state.   One exciting thing that he and the young Elders are working on is helping with the Iditarod, which starts next week.  
        He’s also been asked to take over the travel in the mission.  All the in-mission flights, ferry rides, etc., for the President and senior missionaries, zone conferences and transfers.  What a logistical nightmare since this mission is roughly the size of the western half of the United States and most of it has no roads.  In addition, he’s the guy that the other senior missionaries call on to help them transfer cars around, inspect the apartments, etc., etc., etc.  Oh, yeah.  He’s also supposed to be Sister Taylor’s assistant, helping her with paperwork, computer stuff, sitting in on visits with the missionaries, etc.
        Sister Taylor has been thrown right into the fray.  Already this week she has dealt with a concussion, a car accident, lots of colds and flu and some interesting Preparation-day injuries.  She spends lots of time on the telephone, advising missionaries and talking to doctors and parents.
        Next week we will experience our first transfer day.  In addition to the various missionaries being moved about the state, we will be involved in orienting seven new missionaries.  We still feel like we should be getting the orientation, not giving it.  On Wednesday we will be introducing ourselves and making a short presentation on our respective responsibilities to all the zone leaders at a leadership meeting.   It will be interesting to see what we tell them, won’t it?

Saturday the 21st was our first full day in the Mission.  We arrived Friday at about 2:45 PM.  (Our flight from Seattle was a little bit late due to strong head winds of 100-134 mph.)  We were met at the airport by Pres. & Sister Lambertson (counselor in the mission presidency) Elder & Sister Jacob and Elders Bowen and Stephan.  Bowen and Stephan live in the same apartment complex as we do and they were assigned to take our luggage to our apartment for us while the senior missionaries took us to the mission office and introduced us around.  Before we left the airport, Pres. Lambertson made sure that we had our picture taken in front of one of the stuffed animals (bears, moose, etc.) that are positioned about the airport.  We ended up with a Musk Ox.  Only the best for us. ;-)

At the office we met the Dunns and the Poulsons and a handful of young elders whose names I can’t recall except for Elder Dickson, who is the grandson of some members of Candice’s ward in Orem.  They told us to look out for him and he was one of the first we met.  He apparently takes care of some of the IT stuff in the mission.

After meeting everyone, the Dunns took us on a short tour of the city, gave us a map with relevant areas marked on it and took us to our apartment.  Then we met the others at Chili’s Restaurant and they bought us dinner.

After dinner we went back to the office, met Pres. & Sister Lavoi (the other counselor in the mission presidency) Elder & Sister Mason and some more junior missionaries, picked up our vehicle, a 2014 Nissan Frontier crew-cab pickup and left for our apartment.  We managed to find a Fred Meyer on the way, got a few groceries and found our apartment without too much difficulty.  After an 18 hour day with two airline flights, we unpacked just enough to get to bed and then crashed.

Approaching Anchorage - Chunks of ice in the water!

The Musk Ox
I would have preferred the HUGE moose we saw on another level.

The door to the Mission Office
(Note snow shovel)

Wasatch Front  has nothing on Anchorage!
The mountains form a shallow semi-circle to the East of Anchorage.
To the west is the ocean. (Actually Cook Inlet which flows into
the Gulf of Alaska and then to the ocean.)

Looking East from Strawberry Rd., 
just a couple of blocks from the Mission Office

Sister Taylor is excited to see all the Birch trees this spring and summer.
Note the snow piled in the corner of the lot.  And this has been 
a mild winter.  Some years the piles don't melt until August.
There's only a few inches of snow on the lawns.  
An inch or two of ice on the parking lots and side roads.

The Anchorage Temple.  One of the small ones, as you can see.
We get to go next Tuesday with the newly arrived missionaries.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Week Two has drawn to a close.  We finished our training in Salt Lake at about 2:00 o'clock today.  We are doing laundry, writing email, napping and getting packed in preparation for tomorrow morning.  We leave Salt Lake at 8:20 AM, fly to SeaTac, layover for a couple of hours, then fly 3 1/2 hrs to Anchorage.  We arrive there at about 2:30 PM (Alaska time, we'll be an hour behind Washington/Oregon, two behind Utah/New Mexico.)

It has been another good week.  Not near as intense as last week, but good none the less.  We had the opportunity to get to know the other nurse/couples better.  That was fun.  We especially liked a couple from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, the Varty's. Salt-of-the-earth folks and really easy to get to know.  This is their second mission.  The first was in Martin's Cove.  They will be leaving Monday to serve in the Adriatic North Mission which includes Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and a couple of other countries.  Elder Varty and Dad rode the train back to the MTC yesterday for a day of office training, mostly car stuff.

We have been in touch with our mission and they are going to meet us at the airport.  We know that we have an apartment all ready to go, but don't yet know what kinds of things, food, etc., we might have to buy to make it completely livable.  We're hoping they give us the weekend to get settled in a little and go to our new ward.  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

WHAT AN AWESOME WEEK!!  It has been the most spiritual, uplifting, challenging, scary, wonderful week ever.  We reported to the Missionary Training Center on Monday, February 9th.  Our welcome was a warm one, with everyone treating us like royalty, only with a lot more love and smiles.  Candice took us to the front door and really enjoyed watching her parents being all excited and nervous.  As we went through the registration process in the main lobby, we were handed a packet with all kinds of info and our Missionary Badges, our MTC ID cards, room keys, etc.   Right on the top was a sticky note advising us to contact Jasmine Strong in room B116 on Friday.   For those who don't know, Jasmine is Heather's sister.  Even with all the love and smiles floating around there, it was still great to think that we had someone there we knew and who was looking out for us.  We enjoyed a short visit with her on Friday.  And thank you! Jasmine for the nice room.

After getting settled in our room we had lunch in the cafeteria and then started our training.  Our first meeting was as a complete group and we were addressed by the MTC Mission Presidency and their wives.  One of the things they talked about was how much our families would be blessed by our service.  They spent some time in reassuring us that all would be well at home.  Obviously a common concern among senior missionaries.

During the week we had meetings with our entire group and then break-out sessions with our "district."  We were part of a group of 63 senior missionaries who reported together on Monday.  Three were single sisters and the rest were couples.  Our district consisted of four couples, the Fullers - going to the visitor center in St. George, UT;  the Lowes - going to the Washington DC South Mission;  the Samsons, going to serve in the Solomon Islands;  and we, of course, are going to serve in the ALASKA ANCHORAGE MISSION!!  WooHoo!!!

Our week in the MTC was filled with tears and laughter, sometimes at the same moment.  The spiritual moments were many and powerful, reminding us frequently of the love of our Savior.  The laughter and joy was frequent as we got to know many other wonderful couples who are giving of themselves to serve our brothers and sisters all over the world.  In our group there were missionaries going to South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, the South Seas and all over the United States.   We were especially inspired watching the young elders and sisters that are preparing to go out and teach.   They are truly exemplary youth and full of much energy and enthusiasm.   It was kind of nice to have them always let us older folks go to the front of the line, hold doors open for us and offer to help us carry our luggage or figure out where we were supposed to be.   We love them and have no doubt that the future of the church is in well qualified and capable hands.

We are spending our P-Day and the Sabbath with Candi and her family and are looking forward to our medical training in Salt Lake this next week.   Then we are flying off to Alaska on Friday morning.

Elder and Sister Taylor

Elder & Sister Taylor 
at the front door of the MTC

The view from our room.  
The weather was sunny and warm and no snow.  
Drought for Utah this year?

          Our Room

Our District
Samsons, us, Lowes, Fullers
The young lady in the middle was one of our teachers, McCall Smith.  She was at the Jerusalem Center with Candi and Ed.

The traditional picture in front of the world map. 
Most missionaries point to where they will be serving.
We couldn't reach that high ;-)