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.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

We started into Zone Conferences this last week.  If you have forgotten, or just joined us in this journey, there are seven zones in our mission and they correspond to the seven stakes of the church in Alaska and the Yukon Territory.  Pres. Robinson has asked Sister Taylor to attend these conferences and make a presentation to the missionaries about avoiding and treating injuries.  I get to go along as her companion and help our Vehicle Coordinator with vehicle inspections.

We started with the Chugach Zone and met with them in Eagle River on Wednesday.  After Sister Taylor finished her presentation, we left early so that she could attend a physical therapy appointment with one of the young sister missionaries back in Anchorage.  While she was doing that, I was manning the office all by myself.  It was okay until a group of missionaries that had come to Anchorage to attend the temple came flooding into the office, looking for supplies, snacks, things for their apartments, etc.  It was like herding cats!  I did manage to survive and keep the office in one piece until backup arrived, but it was a challenge.

Friday was the conference for the Fairbanks Zone and we met at the ward building in North Pole.  Not at the North Pole, in North Pole, Alaska.  Quite an interesting town.  We got up at 4:30 a.m. so that we could make our flight at 7:00 a.m.  The flight to Fairbanks takes a little less than an hour.  It can take 7-8 hrs. to drive there with the summer traffic.  We arrived a little before 8:00 o'clock and were met at the airport by President and Sister Robinson.  Having some time before the conference started, they took us sightseeing in North Pole, which is located a few miles south of Fairbanks.  Quite the tourist stop as you can imagine.  The streets are called things like St. Nicholas Dr., Kris Kringle Way, and so forth.  The street light poles are painted like red and white candy canes.  We stopped at the Santa Claus House.  It is an amazing store entirely focused on Christmas and open year around.  Reindeer out in the parking area and everything.  They even have their own reindeer barn.  All the tour buses stop there.  One was just leaving as we arrived.  Here are a few of the photos we took there.

Oh, before we get to North Pole, this is a moose that is in the Anchorage Airport.  We've seen several in our time here, but we've never seen one quite like this guy.  Definitely the king of all he surveys!  You may not be able to tell, but he is huge!

The Santa Claus House (and tourist trap!)

Santa Claus checking his list.  He's about 30' tall.

Lots of photo opportunities for the tourists, both inside and out.

President and Sister Robinson

"Jolly" Ol' Saint Nick?  Nice enough guy, but he looked kind of grumpy.

Sister Taylor letting the old guy know what's on her list.

And, of course, what would a Christmas store be like without a countdown to Christmas?
If you're good, you can figure out exactly when we were there.
After the conference, we flew home on the same flight as the Robinsons and the Assistants to the President.  They had all flown up the night before.  It was a long day for us, but very enjoyable.

The traditional missionary "selfie" with companion and, in this case, the APs, Elders Harris and Justice.

We flew both legs of the journey on a Bombardier Q400 which is the size of a small jet but is a turboprop.  The wing is attached over the fuselage rather than under it.  The view out the window was of the engine nacelle - whoopee.
Sister Taylor wasn't sure she wanted to be this up close and personal with the landing gear.  I figured it was better than up close and personal with the prop which was just a few rows forward of us.
While a lot of Alaska is mountainous, the area around Fairbanks is very flat with lots of water.

The Tanana River as it flows by Fairbanks.  You can see that the land is flat enough that the river takes many channels and we could see where it had changed course many times.

The perfect kind of river for a stern wheeler river boat.  This is apparently one of two or three in town that run dinner and sightseeing cruises for the tourists.

Next week we go to zone conferences in Soldotna, Anchorage (2 of them) and Wasilla.  Then the following week is the conference in Juneau.  We are looking forward to them.  It is always a pleasure to spend time with the young missionaries.

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