Well, life is going well here in Valdez! The bears are really starting to get crazy around here now. When I first got here people said "Oh yeah there's bears all over during the summer," and over the past few months I've seen quite a few, but most of them were from a distance - they were in their respective habitat and I was in mine. But the bears are really going nuts now! I have seen 3 in town, like 50-feet away from people's houses, even just wandering down the road. Most of them are black bears, so it's not as big a deal as a grizzly, 'cause black bears are usually more afraid of people than we are of them. But grizzlies, they are the man-hunters and there's tons of them in town! The city sets up bear traps. They look like a huge barrel with a trap door that slams shut when the bears take the bait. When caught, they take them up to the dump, shoot them, and just dump them. It's kinda sad, but once a bear has started to feed on human food they become a huge danger to everyone.
Here in Valdez, they have garbage pickups twice a week, but the bears still get into the trash cans. You can tell when it was a bear, because they just crush the can to get the lid off. So you will be driving down a street and just see can after can crushed. It's pretty crazy. I'm considering investing in some bear spray but it costs $35 per canister! Bears are awesomely scary. They are nimble like a small dog just bouncing and sprinting around. And they can run freaking fast! There's a story in that Saints In Alaska book that I sent home that talks about a guy using his priesthood to rebuke a bear. It's a pretty funny story!
I love helping people fish! Especially when it is their first fish! I remember one time when we went fishing to the family fishing pond with our scout troop as deacons and we were all helping people fish and I helped Garth catch a fish! He was so excited! Catching the big one is always awesome, but nothing is as gratifying as helping someone catch their first! That excitement is universal!
I hope you guys enjoyed being out in nature like that too! I still vividly remember many of my adventures that I had while at Inconnu. Dad was awesome about letting me and C. dictate the day's adventure, and he even let us do our own thing. One of the things I remember is driving one of those little skiffs with just me and C. Dad was usually with someone else in the other one following us, but still that was pretty crazy. I remember one really warm day when C. and I just hung out at the lodge and used the hose and slid down a muddy hill in sleds. It was awesome! I'm sure it really stressed grandpa out, but it still was one of the funnest things we did. I also remember going to a few of the streams that fed into the main lake and making fish traps with C. using rocks. I love nature. I'm glad you guys had a good time. Keep it up. Buy yourselves a pole and keep on fishing!
The missionary work here in Valdez is picking up and as always we are staying plenty busy with tons of service. Rain or shine we are usually doing service of some kind and it is opening up tons of doors! Service is amazing because it is a very direct way to show our love for people! And it is an undeniable thing. People see us helping their friends and their attitudes towards us change instantly. I cannot really divulge the details of the work, because of the sensitive nature of it, but it helps so much. The best part is that it helps me love the people that I am serving even more! I gain more understanding, more charity, and my faith in them grows, as does theirs for me. They begin to love me and I them - I am able to share the source of my love, of my light of my charity. And because they love and trust me, their hearts and minds are open. That is the beauty of missionary work; getting lost in the love. And because of my willingness to share the gospel, my willingness to just open my mouth and say what I would want anyone to say to someone that I love, my Heavenly Father blesses me with more opportunities to serve and to open my mouth.
I truly love Valdez and I have grown to love the people here, as I love my own family. It is my desire to help them make their families eternal, and to bring that joy that only the Savior's Atonement can bring to people's lives. This fuels my efforts. I strive to become more like Christ; I want to be His hands. And as I get better at seeing through His eyes, I am becoming better at seeing the opportunities to share my love. I am so grateful for the chance I have had to serve in Valdez.
I found myself laying in bed, nervously contemplating the idea of getting transferred. A new start. New people to learn to love and serve. I would miss this area so much, and I hope I don't get transferred because I love to see the progress of these people! But I trust the Lord. I have faith that wherever I am sent, is where I am needed. I will go anywhere. And I realized that my love for the people of Valdez is not reserved for just the people of Valdez, but is a reflection of my love for my Savior, and it is for all of God's Children. I hope to maintain this love, because it is what helps me work beyond exhaustion. I will go where he needs me, and will always love Valdez.
I know the Lord has a lot in store for me. I know that he wants me to continue to grow, which means adversity is near in my future. I hope that I am ready, but I know with the Lord's help I can overcome all things. The greatest joy comes when I take a step back and look at the people here that I have interacted and worked with, and how far they have progressed. Overwhelming gratitude fills my heart. This is what the work is all about!
Well family, friends, I love and miss you. God be with you.