Monday, April 26, 2010

The Wilderness is Calling to Me!

Man! First off, that story about C. getting stuck in the car and just calling and yelling instead of pushing the car out of the intersection was so stinking funny! That’s totally C.! Ha-ha. I miss him. There’s so much freaking mind-blowing snow in the mountains here. IT’S SO HARD TO NOT GO SNOWBOARDING. Well not that hard, cause I don’t have any gear. But my heart pines to be on the slopes up in the pass when we drive through. It was so beautiful Saturday when we were driving back from zone conference. I just keep imagining me, the brothers, dad and maybe our kids even some day in the future going heli-snowboarding or snow machining here. IT’S SO EPIC!!!!!!!!!!!

I tried to take some good pictures and I have a few cool ones that I want to share with you but my freaking camera is not working on with these computers, so I'm gonna have to probably send you the memory card, which sucks, cause then I can’t show other missionaries how awesome Valdez is!!!! And make them jealous!!! Ha-ha.

Seriously this place is amazing! SO you were wondering what I bought. I bought a fishing license. I was just gonna buy a 1 day one but it was 20 bucks, and I was like holy crap what if don’t catch anything today! And having talked to everyone I meet about the fishing I am fairly confident that I can make a full year license pay off so I spent the 145 bucks to buy it. NOW DON'T FREAK OUT!!! Understand that this license will (with a little luck and skill) be a tool of great sustenance. AND next year! I will qualify to get the low income resident Hunting/fishing/trapping license for 5 bucks, so it will all balance out in the long run..... Hahahah I feel like a sucker just typing this out. BUT I can’t pass up on a fishing opportunity like this. This is like the salmon mecca of the world!!!!!!!! People would kill to be in my position -in this area. Mom, Dad, I think you should consider retiring here. Dad could just hunt and then get his pilots license renewed, get a little float plane, and take up hunting!

Did I mention that shrimping season just started? April 15 it opened, and it’s awesome. I stinkin love shrimp. These members, the M’s, caught 1200 shrimp in one day. That’s one of those huge rubbermaid tubs full of shrimp. CRAZY! My companion and I have been eating halibut, shrimp, and salmon out the yingyang. It’s awesome. I don’t think I could ever get tired of it. The only sad thing is that up here in the Prince William Sound they aren't allowed to catch Dungeness crab. There are tons of them down there but because of the big Exxon Valdez spill some 20 years ago they still won’t let them catch ‘em. Oh well, I’m perfectly happy with Salmon, Shrimp, Halibut, Moose, Bear and Caribou.

Well that’s enough to show what’s on my mind on my P-day today. I’m gonna go fishing off the city dock here in a little bit with my companion. See if I can catch some cod or something. You really never know what you’re gonna get off the dock.

As for this last week! ZONE CONFERENCE! It was great! The drive to and from is long though, its 5 hours to Wasilla, so it was 5 hours there and then 5 back but we took a day to go down and a day for zone conference and half a day coming back on Saturday.

The conference was fun. It’s great to get to meet and interact with other missionaries ‘cause we don’t get to do that all the way out here in Valdez. We’re pretty isolated. My favorite part was when all the missionaries and Pres. and Sister Dance shared their testimonies. 40 missionaries bearing their testimony all at the same time is quite the spiritual booster! Then after zone conference we got to have interviews with pres dance and while my companion was being interviewed I got to sit and visit with Sister Dance. I love talking with here because she is so spiritual. She reminds me of Mom ‘cause mom is way spiritual. I told her about my journey that I took to get out on my mission. And that’s exactly what it was... a journey! I’m so grateful I made it though! I love being here and I love the people I am working with!

As for my companion and I, we get along great! He thinks I'm kind of weird sometimes. Haha. But that’s cool with me ‘cause I am! He’s a great dude though! I really admire his drive though, ‘cause he has been out the longest out of any missionary of our zone and even though he only has 3 months left he is doing his best! I can tell that he struggles at times but that’s why there’s 2 of us, so we can uplift and inspire one another to keep each other motivated! It’s great though! He’s a great Elder and I’m glad to have him as my companion!

HEY btw, I miss the guys from my district in the MTC and I want to send them a letter, so if you could look up the address of the office for the Georgia Atlanta North Mission I would be so grateful. Idk where I’m gonna find the time to write them though cause I barely even have enough time to write one person a week but I’ll do my best!

Ummm... I love Samoyeds....

I miss the brothers! I can’t wait till we have all had the opportunity to serve our missions and I can’t wait to see where we will all be in 8 years from now! It’s gonna be sweet!

Family, I love you. I want you to make sure that you know the truthfulness of the gospel for yourself! So I want you to read the Joseph Smith story that you find at the end of the pearl of great price, read it, and then pray to ask your Heavenly Father if it is true. I can promise you that he will tell you that it is, he told me. But you need to know for yourself. Then C, M, and D, after you receive your answer the next night you need to pray to know if you should serve a mission. You need to find out for yourself.

I love you guys!

James 1:5 tells us that if we ask God he will give and answer to us and upbraided not. Meaning even if he’s told us that same answer 1000 times he won’t be mad at you for asking again and he will still answer your question! HOW AWESOME IS THAT!! NO other teacher would ever be that patient or caring enough to do that. But because he is your Heavenly Father, he loves you and always wants you to know!!

I want you guys to know that I love you! I’ll send pictures as soon as I get this whole stupid picture thing figured out!

Miss ya all and love ya'll.

Elder Winterrose

(Tell Grandma and Grandpa Perkins that I said Hi and that I miss them and I’ll write them the next time I have a few free minutes!!!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Valdez Culture and a New Investigator!

Hey everyone!!

SO here is the good news for this week! I made it through!

Alaska is so awesome. Valdez is the coolest place in all of Alaska! We got 2 feet of snow earlier this week and the snowflakes were crazy-shaped. They were these massive bunches of flakes but they were frozen in like a double helix - like DNA - and as they floated down they were spiraling, slowly twisting. It was pretty sweet; everyone I’ve talked to says that was the first time they had ever seen it float like that before. I feel pretty lucky to have seen it!

The natural beauty of this place is amazing! It’s soo awesome. It’s been snowing/raining down here near the bay so it’s been melting the snow that was 6 feet deep last week so now it’s down to about 4 feet. It’s all landing as snow in the mountains and up in the pass too. (The pass is where the road to Fairbanks and Anchorage heads through and its about 20 minutes away)

On Saturday we were able to go up to the pass to watch the Valdez Snow machine Hill Climb which is a qualifier for the World or National Championship in Wyoming! It wasn't what I expected. I was expecting to see them climbing really steep hills, which they were, but I thought it was going to be like a high mark competition, you know - see who can go the highest without rolling their snow machines.

The way they do it is pretty sweet though; it’s set up like a slalom course that they run in reverse, with the gates spread out wide across the mountain. Then they have to maintain their speed through the turns and traversing the mountain - rather than going straight up the mountain. This is more difficult because snow machines are heavy and they like to run flat, not on edge. Think of when you are snowboarding across the mountain and you have to keep your toes up so you can keep your board digging into the mountain! That’s what it’s like, just with a heavy snow machine! And if the people slow down too much or their snow machine just can’t handle it, it will dig in. Then they are stuck. So they have to be good at controlling the machine and maintaining their speed. Each person runs it and they time the run. We saw a couple people who did awesome through the whole thing but during the last stretch, right before the finish line, dug in. It was like EPIC FAIL. Like they could reach out and touch the finish line but their machine just wouldn’t go forward any more. It ended up being pretty cool. But that was just a short cultural study activity that we did, after our 2 lessons fell through and then we went through all our back up plans but no one was home.... cause everyone in Valdez was up watching the heats! I hope I get the chance to try hill climbing like that someday though, it looked like tons of fun!

We picked up this awesome investigator this week too! His name is R. and he’s really bright! We taught him the first and second lessons this week and he has been to church 2 weeks in a row now! He’s genuinely interested in the church and he finds it fascinating, well most of it, except when it’s boring (ha-ha) but that’s how we all are! He’s gonna try to read the entire Book of Mormon. I’m pretty sure he can do it, he said that he could read it in 6 hours, 8 hours actually comprehending it... ha-ha. So I challenged him to do it - to read it before our next lesson, and to pray before he reads it and then to pray to know its truth after he completes it! He’s an awesome dude! And his good friend just got home from his mission from the Philippines and was the one who initially invited him to church! He stayed for the gospel principals class and he seemed really intrigued by our understanding of our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and our knowledge that he loves us and cares for us, and always does what is best for us in his wisdom - whether we know it or not! And how our knowledge comes from the spirit! So we invited him to take the missionary discussions and he really liked it! So we kept teaching him! Please pray for him!

I hope that you guys can have awesome missionary experiences! We are so lucky to have this knowledge of the gospel and so lucky to have each other! That’s a lot more than most people have! And it is our DUTY! Our OBLIGATION! To share this gospel! This wondrous message that Jesus Christ lives and that we can progress towards becoming like our Heavenly Father!

C! M! D! I hope you can apply this excitement to your lives! You all have friends that need the gospel in their lives. You don’t need to be forceful, unless they are less active or wandering away from the church - in that case give them a push in the right direction (being a good example is a great way to do this), but do be open to the people around you. You are Mormons. You have a knowledge of God that no other religion on earth has! Did you know most Christians believe that we didn’t live with our Heavenly Father before this life, SOME EVEN believe that Jesus and Heavenly Father are the same person!

Guys and Mom, I love you all. I cannot imagine a Heaven without you. I want you to worry about your own salvation first; strive to live the gospel - set that example for all around you, and then be open to missionary work. If you invite all your friends and make it a normal thing, than it won’t be weird. MOST OF ALL!! Trust Mom and Dad. Seriously, you can avoid so many stupid choices if you just calm down, put your pride and yourself aside, and listen.

I love you guys! Get out and enjoy the nature around you! GO SWIMMING! I wish i could go all the time but I can’t!!!! I miss you guys! Just remember! Live righteously and you will get a wife that’s way hotter than you are! :)

I’ll send you guys all my pics as soon as I get that cord!! Love ya!!!!

Elder Winterrose

OH AND I LOVE GETTING letters!!! Even if you type it out and send it that is awesome!! I just love getting mail! (You will understand when you guys are on your missions.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

A whole new kind of cold

(Sister Dance, Elder Winterrose, President Dance)

Life is going great! This morning though our hot water and our heat went out again, and I didn't know that they had, so I just went about cutting my own hair and getting ready to take a shower and then when I jumped in it was freezing. It took me the whole of 15 seconds to figure out that it was out. I guess the circuit breaker just keeps flipping for no reason, but our landlord - Stan P- is a member, and he said he just got the part in today to fix it so it’s all good.

One thing to understand though about cold showers here in Valdez - the water comes out of the ground between 36-40 degrees... that’s colder than the Columbia in the middle of winter! That’s straight-up glacier water! It hurts to take a cold shower, it hurts your skin and it gives you like this instant headache. Not to mention if you get it in your ears it’s like instant brain freeze. I survived though!

Oh and I kinda mentioned it! I CUT MY OWN HAIR! Yep, my companion has a trimmer, so I just threw the guard on there and went to work last night. I didn’t get a haircut in the MTC cause all the guys from my district got theirs cut and they did a terrible job cutting it. And it was getting kinda long and shaggy so I decided to cut it. Plus I only have like 30 bucks left for the rest of the month... everything here is so stinkin expensive! Like a thing of 8 rolls of paper towels, the cheap generic small kind, is at least 20 bucks. The small box of tide laundry detergent is 22 bucks! A normal box of dryer sheets is 13 bucks, and a thing of 6 rolls of Charmin (the only good toilet paper) is 15 bucks. Ridiculous! That’s like vending machine prices, jacked up. And it’s not because it’s out here in Alaska. It’s because there is only this one Safeway in the city.... no competition.

Well, that’s bout the only story I have from my p-day so far. Shrimping season starts on the 15th! That means (hopefully!!) shrimp for dinner! The members here are awesome! They are always making sure that we have a dinner appointment, and that’s great because it gives me the opportunity to get to know each of the families and members! I love this town though, it’s so cool. I found out yesterday that a lot of pro boarders were up here the last two weeks in the pass but I guess the big jam they were here for just ended, bummer.. I would have had Shaun white sign my BoM. :)

The mountains here are amazing though, I seriously can’t believe that there isn't a ski resort here at least a little one like Bluewood. I guess it’s because everyone who lives here or visits either owns or can borrow or rent a snowmachine, and the mountains are really snowmachine friendly, you can reach just about any peak with a good snowmachine and a good driver, and a little hiking, :) I will definitely want to be coming back here some day.

As for Tongan, its coming, but slowly... very slowly. I’m still trying to figure out the basic grammar principles. And nope, there is no one besides my comp to practice with here in Valdez.

When I drove down (to Valdez) they didn’t even give me a map! Ha-ha. They just asked my comp if he knew which way to go... it’s not like there’s lots of highways in Alaska though, ha-ha. The car is nice though, and yes it does have studded tires.

As for the amount of snow on the ground, it’s been a beautiful week so a lot of the snow has melted, like 2 feet of it - so there is still like 4- 5 feet in most places. It’s still snowing on and off the last 2 days, but nothing is sticking ‘cause it’s just above freezing outside. It’s amazing how warm a 42 degree day feels when it’s sunny outside, but as soon as the wind blows then it freezes you.

As for Zone conferences, we drive back to Anchorage. But for district meetings we just call in. So it’s not too bad, but the drive between here and Anchorage is longer than the drive to Bend, it’s a good 5 hours when you drive the speed limit.

I’m so excited for the salmon runs though! Only a few more months! But in the mean time I am gonna stick with just doing tons of missionary work!

I love you guys! I miss you! I pray for you all the time. Stay strong, and have fun!

Love Elder Winterrose!

Oh and tell Dad that I got his email! Thanks Dad! Love ya!

And Tell Pootie I got his letter! I’m excited that he’s taking that challenge!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Valdez Glacier

So today was my first official pday!! So far it has been awesome! This morning I got up, worked out, ate, and then I cleaned the tub.... IT WAS SO Bad. Like it was black on the sides and brown all over... and it was a white tub! Then I cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom. It’s so weird being self-motivated to clean. I mean they don’t even do housing inspections here because it’s 5+ hours away from Anchorage. It’s actually relatively close compared to most of the other areas, but it’s still fetching far.

This area is awesome though. There are so many glaciers! Every mountain has a few! And they are all covered! Today was awesome! This morning after getting ready me and my big Tongan comp, Elder V, went out snow machining with the C’s! It was so much fun! It was saaaweeeet!!! P.S. They call snowmobiles snow machines here in Alaska! It threw me off at first but it makes since! I mean we don’t tell people that we ride in an Automobile.... Hahaha! The coolest part was the destination though! We went and checked out the glaciers!

It was surreal, the parts that we went thru were just tunnels that had been created by the rivers that ran thru the glaciers (when it was actually in the glacier), but it was worn away now and we were able to go and walk inside the tubes. Those things are slippery though! You have to stay on the snow that has blown in, or walk on the rocks that were exposed as the glacier melts. Really though, it was unlike anything I have ever seen, and no amount of pictures could do it justice! I love it when I see things in nature that just capture the splendor of God!

We went and climbed around in them for awhile. I climbed up this tube that was just wider than my body and Elder V climbed up the other side and we took pictures of each other. It was soo epic! So then we ended up climbing up to the top of it and Bro. C. showed us this part that we were able to slide down to get back to the sleds (also another name for the snowmobiles). Then we headed back. Did I mention how much fun snow machines are? They are so fun to ride! We got back and the Christensen’s fed us many quesadillas! We talked for awhile and then we took off to go and do our email!

That’s how my preparation day has gone so far! I’m gonna be sending you my memory card soon cause it’s pretty stinking full! I’ve got some epic panoramic pics that you could put together for me, I took them using my cam but it doesn’t splice them together automatically.

General conference/Easter was wonderful! We were fed! We were taught! We taught! It was a great day! I loved all the talks! I'm looking forward to this week. This is kind of a tough area but I know that we will find the diamonds in the rough with the Lord’s help. It’s gonna take quite a bit of searching this week though. So we are really going to focus on finding new investigators. I’m still trying to memorize who all we are teaching, but it’s coming along quickly, especially after I meet and teach them a few times.

Speaking of memorizing! Tongan is coming along! I now know most of my general hello, good bye, how are you, what are you doing type-phrases. It’s kind of going slow cause we really haven’t had that many language study sessions yet but we will have it every day this week and it should be great!

I’m so glad that I was able to hear from all of you, Mom and Dad! I hope the brothers liked my letters! I love you guys and I can’t wait to hear from you! I’ll probably write you all another letter sometime this week if I catch a few spare moments or if something prompts me to write! Mom, I’ll be sending you pictures soon! I love you guys! I hope someday we can all come up here as a family and check all this out together, like when were grown up! Haha I miss you guys!

I’ll talk to you later!

Love, Elder Winterrose!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Awesome in Alaska!

Dear Friends and Family!

Well, the last few days have been quite the whirlwind since I got here to Alaska.

Day 1 – flight and arrival. The flights were ok. The first one I sat next to a Mormon, so not a whole lot of proselytizing – plus I was NERVOUS! But then we got here and it was all good! President and Sister Dance and the AP’s were at the airport waiting to pick us up, right when we got off the plane. Oh, and when I was flying I accidently spilled my soda all over Elder W. and myself, twice! The second time was right after we finished cleaning up from the first one! Oops! But it was all good ‘cause our pants were treated with that Teflon stuff, so my soda just balled up and rolled off my pants! His too! (haha) Plus, I was drinking Ginger Ale, so it didn’t stain or anything! (Did I mention I was nervous?)

Let’s see. They picked us up and then we went to the temple and took some pictures, then we went straight out and went proselytizing! I went with Elder Tuipulater, who’s from Tonga ! With the help of the spirit, we were able to place 2 Books of Mormon, 3 Pass-Along cards and then we found a lady who was inactive and we were literally the answer to her prayers! Then we found this guy named J. – he is 24 and has an 8 month-old son and his wife ran out on him a few months back. We were just doing what we were supposed to do – hitting every door – and he was friendly and let us in, so we taught him the first lesson and Elder T. is gonna get him a Book of Mormon and continue teaching him. It was awesome, the spirit was so strong! It really set my pace!

So, after that one-hour tracting activity, we went back to the mission home and enjoyed a spiritual evening of activities. I started getting a sore throat which turned into a full-blown cold with a fever. But between the Priesthood blessing I received, and my NyQuill/DayQuill barrage (with some Motrin), I’ve been able to work hard and focus in spite of it. I also got to have an interview with the President and we talked. I shared some of my goals with him and then I shared some of my favorite scriptures with him. Alma 29:9 is my current fave! (I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.) Then we sang and hit the hay.

Day 2 – Anticipation dominates the morning. We sit through all the silly paper-pushing mumbo-jumbo and stir in anticipation of finding out where and with whom we will serve! Finally the 11 a.m. rolls around and everyone goes to the living room! And I get told that I am going to VALDEZ, ALASKA! And that’s not all! I HAVE TO LEARN TONGAN!!!

My companion, Elder V, is from Tonga and is helping me learn! (We did some language study this moring and it went well, it’s so stinkin’ cool!) Oh and did I mention how awesome Valdez is? It’s the most awesome area in Alaska! It goes from ocean level to 7,000 foot-tall-mountains, all around! It is amazing. And there are so many glaciers! It’s amazing! AHHHH! I just love it!

Then we headed to Valdez. It was only a 5 hour drive… 5 hours! We saw a moose and I honked at it and it took off. Oh, did I mention that I AM THE DRIVER! My companion is Tongan, so he can’t drive because he doesn’t have a license. So I have to drive (haha)! Crazy! So we got to Valdez, and we ate dinner with the Clark Family and it was funny and crazy. Then we got home, unpacked and got to bed. It was pretty sweet!

Well, this place is pretty amazing. I really like it here. It gets tons of snow. The people are kind and there’s lots of stuff to do on p-days. There is still 5 feet of snow in people’s yards right now. I’m gonna actually get to meet this guy who runs a heli-ski operation here! Oh, and right now there are like tons of freestyle snowboarding pros here, like SHAUN WHITE! There are tons of them up here snowboarding! It’s INSANE! The town is pretty small - only 4,000 people. The only fast food is a Subway. It’s so epic here! This Monday I will get to go snowmobiling with some other members named the C’s. It’s gonna be sweet ‘cause they’re gonna drive us up to the glaciers and we’ll check them out. I’ll send you some awesome pictures! (Haha) I’m just so glad to be here! It’s awesome!

I miss you guys and I’ll make sure to take lots of good pictures so you can see it all! I love you all! Pray for me that I might have confidence to learn and teach. ‘Ofa Atu (I love you). Nofo’a (good-bye).

Love ya!

Elder Britton Winterrose