Saturday, October 31, 2015

Miscelleanous Stuff!

It seems to be fairly traditional that Institutes have some kind of regular Friday activity. We hold ours in the evening starting at 7:03pm at the institute building. It is called SASWAFN. SAS means Soup And the Spirit. WAFN means Waffle Night. It always starts at 7:03pm, why? Don't know. It just does. So, we always eat either Soup or Waffles, and then have some activities or games.

Sister Gardner and Sister Bybee at SASWAFN.

TP Costume contest at SASWAFN.

Mafi & Falua, Twin sisters at SASWAFN.
Sister Watts and Sister Gardner.
Our opening fall activity was a Pizza Fest and Dance. It was a fun activity.
Before eating Pizza!

After everyone had been eating for a while!

Diana Ntono

This is Diana Ntono. She is from Kampala, Uganda. She is a church member of about 15 years and came to October General Conference in Salt Lake, attending the temple for the first time while there. She then came to Alaska to see some friends and then our paths miraculously crossed and we became instant friends. We took her to church (it was Stake Conference) and then the following week we took her twice to the Anchorage Temple, and then to church again the following Sunday. After church we drove down the Seward Highway to Beluga Point on the Turnagain Arm for her to see something not Anchorage.

We had a wonderful time with this new friend.

A Close Encounter of the Moose kind!

On a recent Saturday morning, we pulled out of our side street onto the main road and here appeared this critter. A young bull moose! He was on the move so the shot is a little blurry. Moose are plentiful within Anchorage's city limits and they are seen occasionally, even more now that the weather is getting colder. Just last week, there were two fatal accidents in the city; one with a motorcyclist hitting a moose and one with a car hitting one.
Bears are also occasionally seen in the city. Last spring there was a black-bear mom and 2 cubs roaming neighborhoods in North Anchorage looking for food.

Alaska State Fair-Palmer, AK

We were able to go to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK, about 35 miles NE of Anchorage. This is a dance being performed by native Alaskans.

There was lots to see including some traditional "wild" hairdos. We saw a number of similar ones.
Palmer, Wasilla, and Willow are in an area called "The Valley". Almost all of the agriculture in Alaska takes place in this area. Alaska experiences a short growing season, but makes up for it with very long days in the summer resulting in good growth while the sun does shine. Things like 4H and Future Farmers in America are quite active in the Valley. They were having pig showing while we were here.
There were quite a few rows and areas of displays, many of which were selling food. There was a lot variety in the food found here. As expected, most of it was overpriced, but I guess that's part of the appeal.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Senior Missionaries

What great friends and co-workers. These are some of the Senior Missionaries and Mission Presidency & Wives in the Anchorage Mission. We occasionally get out and enjoy a picnic or a hike in beautiful Alaska. This is in a park in Palmer.

These pictures are from a hike we took from a trail head called McHugh Creek. It is just Southeast of Anchorage. There had been a report of a bear in the area, so that got us all excited.

Around South Central Alaska

Downtown Seward

This picture is from downtown Seward. This mountain is known as Marathon Mountain. Notice the pathways leading up the side. Every 4th of July, this is home to the Mt. Marathon Race. Runners leave downtown Seward and race up the mountainside and then back down on a different route. Elevation gain is a little over 3000' and the record time is about 42 minutes. Wow!
A couple of glaciers overlooking Resurrection Bay going South out of Seward.
This is how YSA Alaskans have a swimming party!
This is how YSA Alaskans warm up after swimming!
This is Virgin Creek Falls, on the outskirts of Girdwood. Very beautiful!

This is a Humpback Whale having some fun entertaining the tourists in Resurrection Bay, South of Seward. This took a lot of luck, being in the right place at the right time and snapping off the picture at the right instant and then having the subject positioned well in the picture.

Abby and Jenica in Downtown Seward
Dylan, Logan, and Kade posing with fish in Talkeetna. Smack!
Rebecca, Jenica, and Abby & Vicki hiking on Matinuska Glacier. The blue cast is for real.

Wow, look at those skipping rocks!

Matinuska Glacier

This is the Matinuska Glacier, about 100 miles Northeast of Anchorage. This is one of the few that is accesible by a vehicle and a favorite of our visitors. This one is huge, about 27 miles long and about 4 miles wide. You're only seeing the very lower end. It's melt feeds the Matinuska River. And, yes, they do have a blue cast to them.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Our First Six Months in Alaska

We can't believe how quickly time has gone by, and how bad we have been at keeping this blog updated!!  We have been serving our mission for six months now.  We are 1/3 of the way through.  We thought it might be a good idea to go back and do a quick overview of our time here.

When we arrived in Alaska the end of February my first thought was that it seemed rather ugly.  We had heard about how beautiful it was here, but all I saw were a lot of dirty cars, dirty piles of snow, and dirty parking lots covered with gravel.  Except for one very cold week the weather wasn't much different from home.  We never did see snow falling and it seemed the amount of daylight was what we were used to.  Well, all of that changed!  The cars got washed, the gravel swept up, and the dirty snow melted.   Suddenly it was spring. (Although it was in May we think!) It felt like we saw trees just starting to bud and within days there was green everywhere!!  The days got longer and longer, which was fun to experience.  We found that it wasn't hard to get used to and we loved all the daylight. We ended up having almost 20 hours of sunlight by solstice in Anchorage. Alaska really is a beautiful place!  We have been able to get out and see some great stuff this summer. Maren and her kids, along with David, visited in June and Rebecca and her girls were here early in August.   Watch for some pictures in the next post.

We started teaching an Institute class when we first got here.  The semester was half over but we were very glad for the opportunity.  We also started the Friday night SASWAFN events right away.  The first few months didn't really seem that busy to us.  We realized that we had most mornings free so we started attending the temple every Thursday morning.  We think they noticed we were there a lot and we were called to be temple workers a few months ago.  We work every Wednesday morning and love it.  We feel so blessed to be serving where we have a temple to attend. The temple is a huge blessing for the faithful saints here in Alaska.

This summer we taught a Missionary Prep class and we loved it.  We had a great group of young adults attend, many of whom are beginning to get mission calls.  Our average attendance toward the end was about 25. Over the course of the class we had about 45-50 different kids attend. They are great young people and we are excited for them to begin their missionary service. Over the next few months most of them will be serving.

Our fall semester classes starts August 24.  We are so excited to get started.  Institute is changing a bit, in that more emphasis is being put on students graduating from Institute if not attending one of the church schools.  There are four new "cornerstone" classes being introduced.  We will be teaching Foundations of the Restoration which promises to be a very interesting class. We'll be studying some of the subjects that have been those that were challenging or controversial in Church history. Some of the "essays" that have been recently released by the church will be covered in our class. We will also be teaching the class Teachings of the Living Prophets.  We love the opportunity to study for these classes and then teach.  We remember telling the missionaries in the MTC how lucky they were to devote all of their time to studying and preaching the gospel.  We don't know if all of them appreciated what a blessing that was.  We feel very blessed to be having that opportunity now.

Part of our responsibility is to provide snacks for the kids when they come to attend class. We have baked thousands of cookies (thanks for Costco frozen cookie dough) and many batches of popcorn. We have those tasks perfected now--everything always disappears to into those smiling faces.

Another observation of interest--In our home in Utah County, Church schedules always seemed to be dictated by the BYU Football schedule. Here in Alaska, that is replaced by fishing season and the salmon runs and the "dip-netting" season. Maybe another post later on dip-netting.

We will post more soon, we promise!!!  Love Elder & Sister Mansfield

Thursday, July 9, 2015

June's Missionary Activities

Missionaries visiting for dinner on the 4th of July. Back Row, Elders Clark, Bailey, Russell, and Hinatsu. Front Row Sisters Bangerter and Moore, Elders Creighton and Pew.  Sister Mansfield was really missing family and was very happy  to cook for the missionaries!  I know she really wanted to make it "festive" but she restrained herself.

I enlisted the help of Elder Belmonte to cook waffles one Friday evening for SASWAFN. He is from the Philippines.  He has been having a bit of a challenge adjusting to the cooler climate.  He pretty much wore his coat everywhere when he got here in May. He has been "freezing" in this Alaska weather!
These are guests for my Birthday Dinner on June 7th. Elders Bailey, Hinatsu, Menlove, and Belmonte. Sweet and Sour Chicken was on the menu. These two companionships are assigned to the two YSA Wards here in Anchorage.  Three of them just got transferred and we will miss them, but are excited for the new one's.  
Occasionally one can see unusual things. Here is Elder Jacob (Mission Finances) Pres. Lambertson (Counselor in Mission Presidency) and Elder Mansfield (CES Missionary). Cougs standing tall!
A baptism in June, in the Anchorage YSA Ward. Nick Jenkins (right in white) was baptized on June 13th. He is in the military serving in one of the bases (Ft. Richardson I believe) here in Anchorage. The other one in white (left) is his friend who originally introduced him to the gospel while they were both stationed in Oklahoma. He came from Oklahoma to perform the baptism.
A picture of our most recent District (Klatt). Elders Kautai, Russell, Clark, Hinatsu (DL), Baily, & Uasike. Front row is Sisters Moore, Bangerter, Mansfield and Elder Mansfield. Transfer day was on July 7th and only 5 survived with Elder Russell going home and Uasike, Hinatsu, Kautai, and Sis. Bangerter getting transferred. 
This is the Branch Presidency of the Hmong branch and a couple of their Aaronic Priesthood Young Men. You may notice that the two counselors are missionaries. There is a story behind the matching ties, but we aren't really sure what it is.
Some attendees of our Missionary Prep. Class practicing teaching the Plan of Salvation to each other. We have really enjoyed teaching this class.  Several have received their calls and some have papers turned in and hopefully will know soon where they are going. Our average attendance has been about 25.  We only have four classes left this semester.  We will miss them.  

Monday, June 1, 2015

May's Missionary Moments

  A few pictures of Institute activities in May.  On Friday nights we have SASWAFN.  I probably mentioned that before.  The first two pictures are from two different service projects that we did.  Stuffing pillows to go to children who are in the hospital.  I love it when the guys get involved in stuffing and sewing!  The next picture is sewing some quilts together for one of the ward Relief Societies.  No young men wanted to get near the sewing machines.

This is a picture of one of our Missionary Preparation classes.  Love these young adults!  This is a 15 week course that will finish up in August.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday we make cookies for the students to eat before/during class.  I am very grateful for Costco frozen cookie dough.  No matter how many we make, they all disappear.

We love Sundays

 I knew I would miss being at home on Mother's Day.  It helped to be able to FaceTime with my kids.  I was surprised at Church with a plant from Joanne.  She gave each mother there a plant she had started.  We also sang primary songs, I'm sure you can guess which ones.  It felt like Mother's Day after all!

There are two YSA wards in Anchorage.  Each Sunday we alternate attending one at 11:00 and one at 1:00.  We try to attend at least a Sacrament Meeting in one of the Polynesian wards at 9:00.  Asenath and Maddelynn are just two of the wonderful YSA women we have gotten to know and love.  The first time we went to one of the Polynesian wards I wanted to take a picture in Sacrament meeting, but resisted the urge.  It was still rather cold and dreary in Alaska and I fell in love with all the vibrant color we see in those wards.  The picture below is right after a YSA Sunday School class we attended.

This past Sunday we went to dinner at Dijay and Aijay's house.  Dijay was baptized just before we got here.  His twin brother Aijay is on the left.  Their friend Lloyd and the missionaries from their YSA ward were also there.  

 Two of Our Favorite Missionaries

Elder Hinatsu and Elder Bailey serve in the Cook Inlet YSA ward.  We have them over for dinner quite often.  Dinner wasn't quite ready one evening and so they are patiently waiting.  We are in their district.  Elder Hinatsu, on the left, is our District Leader.

 Summer in Alaska

Everyone kept telling us to be patient because summer really would come, and they were right!  It was like one day trees were just budding out and within a few days everything was green.  Can I just say I love it!  There are so many trees and it is beautiful.  On Memorial Day we hiked to Thunderbird Falls.  These are pictures we took along the way and one when we got there.  The falls aren't that big, but the hike was wonderful.  It was raining a little but was still wonderful.

I took the bottom picture on a recent Friday night as were getting ready to leave the Institute.  It was around 10:20.  About 19 hours of daylight right now!  Looking forward to the solstice celebrations on June 20th.