Greetings from the North. A week has passed, and it feels like a year, and a week and an hour, all at the same time.
First, a question for all of you: If you had a son serving a mission in Oklahoma, would you worry about a storm in Utah threatening him? No? Well then, CHILL! Don't worry about me. I'm in Chugiac, Bear Mountain ward, just above Anchorage. Nome is probably 600 miles away. Besides, all the missionaries in Nome were pulled before the storm hit anyway. That's revelation for you. Church headquarters told President Beesley to pull the missionaries; he told them he already had. Most excellent.
Anyway, here's some news. I'm in The Bear Mountain ward of Chugiac/Eagle River area, just above Anchorage. Go Google that, because I can't. But anyway, Alaska is massive. That's the only way to describe it. Actually, there is another way, and it's a joke. "Texans are annoyed with being the second biggest state. They propose splitting Alaska in half. Alaska says: 'Why? so you can be the third biggest?'"
But really. Alaska is far removed from the rest of the nation. Whenever we talk about ourselves, we say Alaska. Whenever we talk about anywhere else, we say America, or the Lower 48.
This part is for Sister Darcey. To describe the geography, weather and other parts of Alaska in a way that you can understand, I want you to close your eyes. Now open your eyes so you can keep reading the instructions.
1: Imagine you're in Hong Kong. (for everyone else, wherever you are. Utah, Oklahoma, Etc)
2. Think of the temperature, geography, everything.
3. Now imagine getting on a plane and going to Alaska.
4. That's roughly what Alaska is like compared to Hong Kong.
My pictures don't do it justice. Mostly because my camera froze. Seriously; my camera apparently doesn't work under 30 degrees. Please advise, seeing as the temperature hasn't yet gone above 25.
My first week in review:
Got off the plane. Met President and Sister President.
Went outside. First impression was the feeling of going skiing, but with the ocean smell as well.
Stayed the night at the Mission home. It was cold outside, but not actually too bad, like Salt Lake or Provo.
Met my Trainer: Elder Michael Ivan.
Yes, Dad, I do know his first name. He's from Pleasant Grove and has been out 20 months. He's been to Haynes, Nome and Cordova, so basically everywhere but the far north and Fairbanks.
Took pictures at the Temple. Learned that my camera doesn't work in Alaska.
I learned how to tell if it is below Zero. Your nose-hairs freeze when you breath in. It was -2 that night.
Most of our area work isn't meeting new investigators, but meeting part member families and reactivating less active members. We also work a lot with active member families.
The people in Alaska are amazing. Everyone is so nice and considerate, even as they close the door on you.
We live in the basement of some members; however some missionaries live in the Church Buildings, especially in Nome and Kotzebue. They sleep in the Primary room, shower in the baptismal font, you know, just like an Atkinson family reunion. But anyway, being up here is so amazing.
The sun doesn't come up until 10:00, and it goes down at 4:00. from 7 onwards, it's darker than midnight. The northern lights are visible from where I am, but it's been too cloudy to see anything.
Getting back to the weather; it just stopped snowing, which was a shock. One day we were helping a family move (from 8 in the morning till 3 in the afternoon; we do serious service here) it snowed all day long, about a foot and a half. The big thing about the weather is that here, it snows about as much as Utah, but it never melts. By the end of winter (June) we are buried, just because it's accumulated.
The weather hasn't yet gotten above 25 degrees. It also only gets worse. we'll be pushing -20 here by the time winter really hits. I don't yet have another coat, but my mac is doing fine at the moment. My gloves and skull cap are doing just great as well. May I also recommend Ecco Shoes to EVERYONE. They are durable and awesome and cool. I also picked up a pair of boots in our basement. They're Sorrels, size 12. so large, but so warm. I'll get something my size, if I ever get sent farther north.
I bought a hoodie and a pair of Jeans to do service in. AAAAggghhhhhh!!!!!
BEGIN JEANS RANT (shout in loud and all in one breath)
How do you even wear these things? They ride up and down at the same time, the Denim is the most uncomfortable fabric ever, it doesn't stretch or bend, and I can't walk in it, and I can't even tuck my legs up or bend down or kick or anything, and why do they even have pockets if you can't put anything in them and they're so small and tight and who picked blue as a good color anyway and I HATE THEM.
Admittedly, they do make me look svelte and hot, but that's not really the image I'm looking for as a missionary.
The hoodie is really nice, though.
That's about it. Send up your questions in an easy to answer format and I'll get back to you.
Whenever I think of you, it is fondly,