On Monday evening we drove up to the overlook of the city on Flattop Mountain, the most climbed mountain in Alaska. We didn't climb to the top of the mountain, that was another 1500 feet above the parking lot. Fortunately for the older, or more infirm, there is a nice overlook just a short hike from the parking lot. From there you can look out over the entire city and parts of the Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm. We timed it just right so that we were there for sunset.
|Looking to the left. Southern end of the city and out into where the Turnagain Arm|
flows into Cook Inlet. If you don't remember the Turnagain Arm, see the post from March 16th.
|To the right, and zoomed in, the downtown area of Anchorage.|
|This photo was taken right after the sun went below the horizon.|
You are seeing reflected light, not the sun. Cool, huh?
Wednesday we had the opportunity to go to the Wasilla Zone Conference. What a neat experience these mission meetings are! In addition to the spirit that attends and the instruction the younger missionaries receive from the Mission President and their Zone Leaders, it is really neat to get to fellowship with them all and get to know them better. Although we have been in Alaska for a little over two months, now, we still have not met a large number of the missionaries serving here. It was also an opportunity for Sister Taylor to put some faces to some of them missionaries that she has helped over the phone.
After the meeting, we went out to do three apartment inspections on behalf of our Housing Coordinator. That really helped us learn the Wasilla/Palmer area better! Some of those apartments are not easy to find.
To get to one of the apartments, we had to drive through the Pioneer Peak area of Palmer. What a beautiful area! It is right at the foot of the mountains and yet is flat enough that there are some farms there as well. About a hundred yards down the road from the Elders' apartment is a Reindeer farm that is owned by some members of the church. We'll be going back when they open for tours later in the summer.
|Reindeer, or Caribou, same thing. As Don Noel says, "The only difference is that|
reindeer can fly, caribou can't." Hey, makes sense to me.
|And one lonely buffalo.|
Also in our travels that day we saw a flock of Sand Hill Cranes grazing in an open area between the highway and the river. When we stopped to take pictures we were told by a resident that they are just migrating through to the north for the summer.
We were able to continue walking the trails through Anchorage again this week. Unfortunately we only made it a couple of times. As usual, though, we saw some more interesting things. Since we are talking about birds, we have seen a number of Canadian geese as they pass through on their migration. Not too many large flocks like you see in Longview, but smaller groups and pairs almost everywhere, along the creeks and ponds, along the edge of the highway, even taking life easy in the church parking lot.
On Saturday we hauled a couple of mattress and a folding table to the newly arrived senior missionary couple in Eagle River. They are from Utah and will be serving as military liaison missionaries with the members from Joint Base Edmonton-Richardson, an army and air force base at the north end of Anchorage. We combined the trip with some sight-seeing in the Eklutna area. We hiked in a mile to Thunderbird Falls on the Eklutna River (both a little anti-climactic after rivers and waterfalls in Washington/Oregon). However, in so doing we got some good photos of some birds along the trail. These are for Amy and Wes and any other bird watchers out there. We have identified them as a male and female pair of Pine Grosbeaks.
In addition to the Grosbeaks, we also ran into large flocks of the Alaskan State Bird --
After hiking up to the waterfall, we drove up to Eklutna Lake, a beautiful mountain lake, surrounded by beautiful mountains.
Also in the Eklutna area we found a small Russian Orthodox Church and graveyard. This church is currently devoted to a congregation of one of the Native Alaskan peoples, the Athabaskans, but is now part of a historical park due to the construction of a new church nearby. It was built in the mid-1800s in Knik, Alaska and was moved to Eklutna around 1900. It is the longest standing building in the greater Anchorage area. Most of the graves are covered by "spirit houses"- small structures built by the family of the deceased. Many of them combine their native tradition with elements of Russian Orthodoxy such as the Russian Orthodox three-barred cross.
To end the week (or start the new one) we had a great day in church today. During our Fast & Testimony Meeting one of the young elders from Samoa bore his testimony. He has been in Alaska for nine weeks. When he came he didn't do much more than smile and nod because he spoke very little English and only understood a little bit more. Today he stood and bore a very moving testimony and did so completely in English! It was broken English, but perfectly understandable and he spoke for 3 or 4 minutes. Then a Tongan elder got up and told about his conversion and how his serving a mission has led to the baptism of his entire family. It was a very uplifting meeting overall and those two young men were the highlight. We are really enjoying our fellowship with these young elders and sisters and partaking of the spirit that surrounds them.