Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer in Valdez

Dear Family and Friends,

So right now my companion is sitting looking at pictures of his younger sister who just got married to some guy he has never met before! Makes me so glad I don't have any sisters. I'm bummed that you guys are selling the boat but I guess it's for the best because that means that eventually dad is going to give in and buy a wake-boarding boat..... way down the line. It's not like we spent a whole lot of time on it last summer, but it is still a bummer. So let's go over what I did last week........

Caught some salmon. Talk about Alaskan experiences! I caught 3 pink salmon last week when they first started to come in! It was pretty awesome because it was my first salmon. Now the run is hitting full swing and the salmon are just pushing each other up the fish ladders at the hatchery. It's a wild life party over there.

Last week I saw a pack of river otters swimming in the ocean chasing the salmon. It was weird because they were about 50yds out and I couldn't figure what they were because they were too small to be sea otters and they had long skinny tails. But then I saw one closer and realized that they were river otters. There were 5 or 6 of them swimming off of Allison Point, one of the better fishing locations. Then Saturday the pinks were really charging in. They swim in in schools and they swim so fast and are packed so dense that they create a wave that rides on top of them and a wake behind them as they come in and up the river. It's pretty sweet to see the Sea Lions that chase them around too! Those things are huge! Like freaking massive! Their heads are about the same size as a grizzly bear's. Wanna know how I know? Because there was a mamma griz and 3 second-year cubs chillin 15 yards upstream from the bridge where we were taking pictures! It was so cool! All the tourists there on the bridge just kept saying "OMG OMG!!!" and "THIS IS A ONCE IN A LIFE TIME EXPERIENCE!" and then the member that we were with replied "Unless you live in Valdez"........ it was funny, I guess you had to be there though.

The nature here is pretty phenomenal. I've seen Brown/Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Sea Lions, Sea Otters, Various types of seal and Fur Seal, mammoth Halibut! ~ the largest one entered in the derby this year was 200.2 lbs ~ and huge runs of fish! Not to mention the number of amazing waterfalls and huge glaciers all around Valdez. This place is amazing. Honestly, this is the best time of year to visit Valdez because it's just packed with wildlife.

The pictures that lady sent you were of us catching our dolly varden from a secret spot that a friend showed us. :) We got 16 of them. It was a pretty nice day of fishing and I'm getting much better at filleting fish, I can actually do a little fish like the dolly's in one cut. We are going to go and fish them again today though! I'm pretty excited for that! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes! We eat so much fish! Usually we just end up giving a bunch of it to members. The members here are awesome about feeding us too!

And I did have a baptism two weeks ago! I can't believe that I omitted that part! It was great! The boy is 9, his mom is a member and his dad is not but we did end up teaching the whole family! His mom had been struggling with church attendance but now it's not just her getting the two little boys to go to church, now she only has to worry about the youngest because the older boy is more motivated to attend church! It was a great baptismal service too! The primary did a really great job getting people to turn out!! I even taught the younger boy why we need to tuck our shirts in and wear ties and then he did it! HE TUCKED HIS SHIRT IN! Talk about milestones. The mom was very happy that he did it! We made sure that we included the dad through the entire process and I feel that he progressed as well.

So last week, besides fishing and nature-loving, we got to paint a big visitor bureau kiosk. It took the better part of 3 days! The good news is that while we were doing it we met a ton of people in the community who were happy to see the pile of junk off of the side of the road finally getting a good paint job. They would stop by and chat! And I learned how to use an airless sprayer! Those things are awesome. To put the icing on the cake the people we were doing the service for took us out to dinner, lunch, and breakfast. We literally ate at every restaurant in town last week! It was a fun service opportunity!

Sunday was a blast too! My companion and I were asked to teach a primary class because it was the lesson about missionary work but it turned out that we had a potential investigator show up to church so we had to split-up. He went to the gospel principals class and I taught Primary 9! it was way fun, we had a few visitors, and I was asked to teach at the last moment's notice, but seriously what missionary cant teach how to be a missionary! I even used the manual! It was a blast. It was a pretty large class though, 9 kids, but that's nothing compared to my Primary class! Haha. The only rough part was when we went to do sharing time and singing time, my little missionaries started going crazy! All in all it was a blast and now I have a army of mini-missionaries that love me, and my companion was able to pick up a new investigator, so it was an awesome Sunday!

After church we went and wandered around all the various activities that the town was having! It reminded me of when we went to the 4th celebration down in Fillmore, how the entire town was at the parade and then they had that big barbecue after. That's exactly what it was like here except I'm sure they don't have anything like that in Fillmore on a Sunday! Haha. So we just walked around and talked to a bunch of people. Later on we went to a family party at one of the member's house and then went and watched them light off fireworks. It's weird lighting off fireworks here in Alaska because it really doesn't matter if its 7 pm or 12 pm, it never gets dark. So people don't even wait. They just start lighting off their fireworks as soon as they get done with dinner. All in all it was an excellent end to a fantastic day!

Well family and friends, I miss you much! I hope you are all doing well and I hope you are all asking Heavenly Father to increase your Charity and Faith. Faith and hope. Charity and love. These are the Christ -like attributes that are critical in being Christian. Without these, it is impossible to emulate Him, and all of our actions, (attending church, attending the temple, serving in our callings, serving a mission) are all in vain. The Pharisees had all the right actions but lacked these basic characteristics, that is why they were Hippocrates. Pray always for these things. Mormon beseeches us to seek after these things in Moroni 7 .

I love you all so much, I wish the best for you and I hope that you all will do these things. I have noticed a drastic change in my life as I have prayed for, received, and used my strengthened charity and faith. It has helped me become less cynical, critical, and stressed. It has made me more understanding of others, it helps me see others as the sons and daughters of Heavenly Father that they are, and helps me treat them they way they deserve to be treated. I'm so grateful to be here on my mission and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Much Aloha,
Elder Winterrose

Are you still learning Tongan? Yep Still working on it! How’s the work going? Slow, but it seems to be picking up! Are you getting letters from anyone else but family? I was receiving letters from ******* but I haven't got one in quite some time.. You should bug her a little bit next time you see her in person. Seriously though I haven't received a letter in like 5 weeks! Hahaha

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