Our mission is receiving I-Pads for the missionaries to use in their proselyting. They have been used in a handful of different missions as a pilot program (including the Washington Vancouver Mission!) and are now being disseminated to others. Ours is one of thrty missions in the current wave. Our Mission President traveled to Salt Lake this week for his training. We received the I-Pads last week and have the training for our missionaries next week. The Fairbanks Zone will be trained on Tuesday and the rest of the mission will gather here in Anchorage for their training on Wednesday. They'll receive their training in three stages - first will be the initial introduction (and receiving their I-Pads). A couple of weeks later they'll be trained on the Area Book/Planning app they'll be using and then later they will be trained on social media proselyting. So I spent all day Friday organizing and inventorying all the I-Pads and getting them ready for distribution. The whole mission is pretty excited to move into the digital age.
On Saturday we made another trip to Potter's Marsh to watch a few birds. We were able to identify a couple of new (to us) species and got a few pictures. The wind was blowing so hard that it was forcing the swallows to land on the railings and we were lucky enough to be right in the middle of a bunch of them.
|A shot of part of the boardwalk and marsh. You can see that there is a creek|
(or two) flowing into this side of the marsh.
|A couple of close-ups of the Tree Swallows that were darting around.|
|This is a Yellow-Rumped Warbler|
|And this is him looking away. Just too quick for an amateur photographer.|
|These ducks are Scaups. The pair on the left are male and female Greater Scaups. The one on the right and below we believe to be a male Lesser Scaup. The difference is the little flat-top haircut (and some white patch only seen when they are flying.)|
|An Arctic Tern. I tried and tried to get him in flight. Not as hard as catching a Swallow, but pretty close.|
They look really cool soaring over the water and then diving in for their dinner.
No other scenic shots for you. The city is really starting to green up, though, and all the winter debris is just about cleaned up. And for some reason we are seeing more moose. One of them ran across the freeway in front of us the other day. He had cars swerving all over. Wish we could have gotten a video of it, they are quite the animals, all legs and no coordination.
This weekend was our stake conference. We are in the Campbell Park Ward, Anchorage Alaska North Stake. (There is also an Anchorage Alaska Stake - the south end of town.) In our stake we have 11 wards and 1 branch. Going to stake conference here is quite an experience. In addition to the regular wards, we have one Tongan and three Samoan wards. If any of you still think we lost out by not going to the south pacific, let me assure you that we have the best of both worlds. We have the south seas right here in the frozen north.
As we walked into the chapel last night for the Adult Session of conference we were greeted by a choir singing prelude music. It was the ward choir from the Northern Lights Ward, one of the Samoan wards. Talk about awesome! They did several hymns, all in Samoan. The neatest one was How Great Thou Art. It was incredible! There were 33 sisters and 19 brothers in the choir and they were perfectly balanced. No half-hearted singing for the Samoans. They filled that building. I haven't heard any other church choirs to match it. And the Tabernacle Choir doesn't have anything on them when it comes to attire. The sisters were all dressed in turquoise tops with black skirts, white pearls or beads and many of them had flowers in their hair. The sister who was conducting was wearing a black blouse and turquoise skirt. The men were all dressed in black suits with a turquoise tie that matched the sisters' outfits and had on kona nut necklaces.
We had a General Authority visiting for the conference. Elder Michael John U Teh of the Seventy. He and his wife are from the Philippines but have lived in Utah for the last couple of years. He is a very soft-spoken and gentle man who talked to us about sharing the gospel, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, tithing, going to the temple and keeping covenants, among other things. His wife spoke this morning and talked about their home in the Philippines. Merci, Ralph and Dixie, you would have enjoyed it. Dixie, she talked about the mangoes and how, even though some of them are exported to somewhere, you can't find them here. She also talked about how there are many kinds of bananas but that you can't get them in the U.S. She said that she took a bite out of "those things" we have here and threw the rest away. She said, "They're pretending to be bananas." She talked about how, although they love their home and neighbors in Bountiful, Utah, she misses the Philippines with the swaying palm trees, etc. She said that while the choirs were singing she could feel the trees swaying. (the Dimond Ward choir sang this morning - another Samoan ward, and yes, that is the correct spelling of Dimond. It's someone's name.)
We are wishing that we could be in New Mexico this week. John, our oldest grandson, graduates from high school tomorrow night and leaves for his mission in two weeks. We are very proud of him, as we are of all our grandkids, but sure wish we could be there to see him walk across the stage and get that diploma. Trust that we will be cheering from here tomorrow night about 7 pm New Mexico time.