This was transfer week! Always fun and exciting. We had five new missionaries arrive on Monday, four elders and one sister and none of them were from Utah, which is unusual. One of them was named Taylor so I guess I’ll have to get used to being referred to as the “older” Elder Taylor. To say the “elder” Elder Taylor doesn’t exactly work, so I’ll probably just be “older.” Anyway, they arrived at the airport just after noon. We got to have lunch with them at the office, then got them all oriented and off to the mission home.
On Monday night we had the downstairs missionaries over for Memorial Day dinner. The main dishes were baked chicken, potato salad, apple pie and watermelon. Sister Taylor figured that since we couldn’t have a barbecue we should at least have some traditional Memorial Day food. The elder from Washington State really liked the potato salad and apple pie, some of his favorites. The elder from Tonga went wild on the watermelon. He ate a good third of a full-size melon and Sister Taylor gave him another quarter to take home with him. It was one of his last dinners out before he went home. He was from Tonga and finished his mission this last Tuesday. Everyone was very sympathetic – he left Anchorage a little after midnight Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) had to fly 7 hours from here to Los Angeles, where he had a 12 hour layover. Then he flew 17 hours to New Zealand, had a short layover there and then flew 3-4 hours to Tonga. If you add that all up, it is the better part of two days. Two days without any place to lie down or any regular meals.
Tuesday was transfer day. Transfer meetings are always awesome as we get to hear the testimonies of the departing missionaries. We had nine leaving for home this week. The general theme for their comments is always, ‘How my mission brought me closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ.’ It is interesting, and often very moving, to hear them talk about how they have matured spiritually and temporally.
After the meeting the departing missionaries get to go to the temple. Then they spend the rest of the evening, until their flights, at the mission home. This time, some of the missionaries had requested a special dinner by Elder & Sister Poulson, a senior couple who will be going home in a couple of weeks. (Elder Poulson spent his professional life in the food industry and is quite the cook.) The Poulsons asked us to help and it was a blast. As per a couple of requests, we fixed coconut shrimp, halibut fish and chips, deep-fried onion rings, coleslaw and Sister Taylor made ice cream roll cakes for dessert. Needless to say, the dinner was a hit! And we got to enjoy the fruits of our labors, too!
The rest of the week was business as usual. In addition to the normal tasks, the Poulsons are going home, and are not being replaced, so the rest of us are having to learn various parts of their duties so that we can take up the slack. It is making for some interesting times! Sister Taylor is still busy with her nursing duties and the I-Pads are more time-consuming for me than anyone anticipated.
Wednesday and Friday afternoons we went to Wasilla to attend some doctors’ appointments with a couple of the young missionaries. Both days ended late in the afternoon or evening, so we stopped at a little lake called Reflections Lake near the Knik and Matanuska rivers. We were in our Sunday clothes so we didn’t go hiking around the lake, but we were able to take a couple of photos and see some more Red-Necked Grebes. There were lots of little birds around, too, but they were too fast to photograph and pretty much stayed in the trees so we couldn’t see them.
|A beautiful little lake on the edge of the Mat-Su Valley.|
|No, Sister Taylor is not preaching to the animals. As usual, she couldn't get away from her phone|
and was talking to missionaries and Salt Lake, trying to get some medicine for a sick elder.
We did get a little more bird watching in this week. On Saturday morning we saw two species we haven't seen before, another magnificent eagle and three families of Canada geese. (We think the eagle was trying to get a shot at the goslings.)
|Just for fun - American Robin|
|And these Tree Swallows are so cool. |
I can't catch one flying, but they like to sit on the hand railings and pose.
|We saw three Canada Goose families, each with a momma, daddy and a handful of little fuzzy, yellow goslings.|
The geese aren't in flocks up here, they are in pairs, nesting all over the place. Anywhere with long grass.
|And this guy was really looking for dinner. We think he was waiting for an opportunity to scarf up one of the goslings, but mom and dad were really keeping a sharp eye out and keeping their young ones protected.|
While on the way home from church today, one block from our apartment and right next to the freeway and its frontage road, we saw this momma and her two little ones.
|The two calves are to the right, between the tree and the bush.|
|closer shot of the calves|
It's been another great week in Alaska. Now we're starting to get excited about Kristi coming up to visit us later this month. Can't wait!