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

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