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, September 27, 2015

Well, let's try to get caught up a little.

On Wednesday the 16th we went down to Soldotna and Kenai.  Left at 5:00 AM and drove 3 hours.  Went to a doctor's appointment with a sister missionary, nursed 4-5 sick elders (cold bug going around like wildfire)  drove back almost 4 hours due to the construction and a few minutes spent stopped at a place called Summit Lake.  We took a couple of pictures of the autumn colors on the mountainside and then spotted a solitary loon down on the lake.  We took a couple of long-distance pics and were able to identify it as a Common Loon, a new one for us.  As we started to drive off, Linda saw what she thought was a group of loons a little further down the lake.  We bailed out and took some more pictures and discovered several female Common Merganser ducks, another new one for us!  Whoopee!  Two for one and we weren't even looking for birds.  Most of the birds have packed up and left for the winter.  There are still a few around, but only a few.

So it was only a 12 hour day.  And Sister Taylor caught the cold and was down for a couple of days herself.

This last week we made our third trip to Fairbanks.  Our vehicle coordinator needed some winter tires swapped between Anchorage and Fairbanks, so we hauled sixteen up, brought fifteen back and Sister Taylor nursed a bunch of sickies while we were up there.  Yes, the bad cold that is going around hit the Fairbanks Zone with a vengeance.  Among other missionaries, there were three sisters there who were like death warmed over.  Bad, bad shape.  Now the cold has started in Anchorage and next week is transfer week!  It'll be all over the state by the end of the week.  They'd probably spread it into Canada as well, but I don't think any missionaries are being moved in or out of Whitehorse this time so maybe Canada will be lucky and miss out on this one.

We were quite fortunate this trip.  The sky was absolutely clear on both days and we got some good shots of Mt. McKinley aka Denali.  I think we've told you before that everyone up here calls it by its Native Alaskan name - Denali.  Now the President has made the change official but I don't know when it will be/has been change(d).  They say that the mountain is so big that it creates it own weather systems.  Consequently, it is generally shrouded in clouds to one degree or another.  The estimate is that less than 30 percent of the tourists actually get to see the mountain.  I guess we are now either part of the 30 percent or we're no longer tourists.

On our earlier trip it was quite overcast and we didn't know that the mountain tends to
peek out occasionally as you are driving north.  This looks close but is actually 40 miles away.
There are two official viewpoints along the highway.  This is a shot from the southern-most one.
Even though the day was clear as a bell, there was still a little haze between us and the mountain.

Seeing Denali was super, but there were mountains, mountains and more mountains all along the way.
We only took about a bucket-full of pictures.  Fantastic views, fantastic country.

While we were in Fairbanks, we ran across this little store front.  Only in Alaska!

What we didn't realize was that there are great views of Denali coming back from Fairbanks, as well.

And just for drill, we stopped in at the viewpoint on our way back and found that the air was even clearer than the day before.  Great view of the mountain.

And while we were at the viewpoint - yes, we spotted another new bird - a Gray Jay.
Another one for the list.

Yesterday we were privileged to attend the baptism of a young sister that had been taught by the Elders who live downstairs.  We hosted one of the lessons in our apartment when one of their other fellowshippers had to cancel and we were glad to have the opportunity to be there for her baptism.  As occasionally happens with those things, some of the folks on the program weren't able to be there.  When we arrived, at five minutes before the hour, Sister Taylor was asked to give the talk on the Holy Ghost.  She did a great job.  

Today we attended the Bush Branch, as usual.  The Branch President has asked for everyone to send in a picture and a short bio so that a book can be put together that will help the members of the branch know each other a little bit better.  Right now people only know each other by the sound of their voice.  It'll be nice to be able to put a face to the voice.  This is the picture we sent in.

They put some of the pictures up on the bulletin board outside the Branch President's office along with this map of members' locations around the state.  Each pin represents one or more families or individuals in that village.  Pretty big Branch, huh?  Covers an area the same size as one stretching from the Canadian border to the south end of Nevada and from the Pacific Ocean to the eastern borders of Wyoming/Colorado.  And that's not including the Aleutian Islands.  You can see that we have members out there, too.  Can you imagine home/visit teaching someone three states away from you?  And can you say, "I can see Russia from my house."?

Sorry the picture isn't clearer.  I was taking it with my cell phone through plexiglass.

This evening we'll be having the sister missionaries over who are also assigned to the branch.  We'll be attending a Branch Missionary meeting via Video Conferencing.  There will be branch missionaries from all over the state attending.  Don't you just love technology?  You can't even go to the Alaskan Bush to hide from your calling!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Not too much to report in the last couple of weeks.  The work continues, especially for Sister Taylor.  It seemed like this week she was on the phone with missionaries, doctors, Missionary Medical in Salt Lake and parents for about 16 hours a day. (Maybe a slight exaggeration.)  That's in addition to house calls and attending doctor's appointments with various missionaries.  On Wednesday, we made a house call at about 8:00 AM for an elder that messed himself up in morning sports;  attended the temple with some of the missionaries in the morning;  worked in the office in the afternoon;  made the hour drive to Wasilla for an appointment at 5:00 PM (finished at 7:00);  took the elders out to dinner afterward; drove home and found two more elders waiting in the driveway for us.  While they were there, a second pair of elders showed up.  Getting them all taken care of, we finally got to sit down and take off our shoes at about 9:30 PM.  Probably would've been later, but they have to be home at 9:30 PM.  And in the handbook it says that senior missionaries - us old people, you know - aren't required to maintain the same schedule as the young missionaries.  Right!  If they're up and about, we're up and about.  But we do love our young missionaries.  They're awesome!

There was just a skiff of snow on the highest elevations around us again this morning but I'm sure it's gone by now.  Last night it got down to about 37 degrees - fall is in the air and winter can't be far behind! Although it's been raining the last couple of days, today is brilliantly sunny and the temperature looks like it's going to peak out at about 56 degrees.

It changed from summer to fall very quickly here.  All of a sudden the air was cooler and the leaves all turned in about a week's time.

But there is always the bit of beautiful countryside to see and the occasional flock of Sandhill Cranes or Canada Geese gathering themselves together in preparation for traveling south.  And we still see the occasional Trumpeter Swan, looking regal as it glides among the reeds and other lesser

The decision was made to close the mission office on Labor Day (so that the senior missionaries could 'rest from their labors') so we took the afternoon and went to last day of the Alaska State Fair in Palmer.  It was very nice with the usual displays of produce, livestock and crafts, along with a rodeo, heavy equipment contests, native dancing and a medieval Jousting Tournament.  Of course, there were the obligatory carnival rides, food vendors and myriad other opportunities to buy what you don't need and won't ever use.  Generally an enjoyable way to waste away an afternoon.  The weather was cooperative and we had a good time.  We forgot to take the good camera, so here are a few of the snapshots we took with our cellphones.

A "wall" of Sweet Peas around one of the garden areas just inside the main gate.

In the center hub of the various pathways through the fairgrounds they had this large round garden area.  It was built entirely of vegetables and herbs and represented three gardeners working in their garden.
Check out the "flannel shirt" on this guy.

The Mat-SuValley is the only real agricultural area in Alaska.  Athough their growing season is short, they grow some incredible produce.  This year there was a problem with the pumpkin contest and the only one they had there was this
 965 lb. behemoth.  We understand that most years they are more like 1200-1300 lbs.

It is said that you can sit in the cabbage fields and actually hear the cabbage grow.  You can hear the leaves squeak against each other as they grow.  See that one in the middle?  A closeup is below.

106 pounds!!!  This beastie weighs more than several of my grandkids!

This beet was grown by a 4H student.  Pretty good, huh?

In the crafts exhibit hall they had some nice woodwork,  These are for all the woodworkers in the family.

A quilted ceremonial robe.

And the usual amount of silliness - these are knitted hair/beards/etc., of the dwarves from The Hobbit.

We didn't take many photos of the chickens, rabbits, sheep, cows, llamas, etc., but I couldn't resist this monster tom turkey.  I don't think I ever seen one quite like him.  And check out all those ribbons.

We enjoyed watching a bit of the native dancing performance.  These ladies were really enjoying themselves and would make faces at the kids in the audience and break out laughing between numbers, etc.  It was fun to watch.

A happy note to end on for this week.  Love to all!

Elder & Sister Taylor