Anchorage Alaska Mission Chronicles - Volume I, Part I [Training]Written by Sebastien Sinclair Dalin
January 2015 – Arrival at the MTC – Week 1
So, life is different, quite different, but not much of a shock. It may have taken a while to get here, but once I was here I loved it. My first day was a very long one, but that is just fine, I don't mind long days. Most of that day was a blur, but never once was I lost, because my companions: Elder Allen, Elder Stephan, and Elder Board were very kind and showed me around. That first morning, I met the rest of my District: Sisters Rose, MacNeil, Finch, and Strong. All these Missionaries are great; many of them have a few similar experiences to my own, except the getting lost on a mountain one. I got that one all to myself. I am amazed at how strong the spirit is when we are learning together, and I know that we were meant to be a district.
Elders Zabriskie and Powell were right about the MTC food. Tasty, but it really messes with the belly, the first day was the worst. My stomach gurgled and churned something strange, not painfully and not nauseously, just strangely. Going into day 3 it isn't quite so bad. I'm trying to eat only enough so I'm not hungry when I finish my meal in order to minimize my discomfort.
Now, Elder Board, poor Elder, when he was submitting his Papers he found out he had a tumor in his eye, and they gave him some meds. They said it should go away by the time he left and he'd be fine. Well, it didn't, and he had to go home, have it removed and then return to the MTC. If he recovers quickly he should still be able to keep his mission: Alaska Anchorage Mission. Elder Allen is a pretty cool guy, he would be one my friends if we were not on a mission. Elder Stephan is the youngest of five boys - and he has a little three year old nephew who wrote him a letter. He lives 20 or so minutes from the MTC so he has gotten several packages over the course of the past few weeks.
The sisters are pretty cool too. Sister Finch is from North Carolina and she has a slight southern accent, it's really interesting. She will be going to Reno Neveda. Sister MacNeil is from Arizona and she love ballet. She will also be going to Reno Neveda. Sister Strong is a registered Barber which is really cool. She will be joining the Elders, me, and Sister Rose in Alaska. Sister Rose is from the Des Moines Iowa Stake, which is really cool.
I found out that I am required to wear my suit jacket every day, all day except while eating and in the classroom, which makes it a very, extremely, overly warm experience. I'm so excited to depart for Alaska on the 19th, because then, just maybe I will actually get cold - just once.
Almost to the Field – Week 2
The wait to get to Alaska is almost over. I leave the MTC Monday morning at 4:00. So much has happened this week, Meeting with five Investigators (from the Teaching Resource Center,) seeing a general authority and his wife speak, and I even gave my first Priesthood blessing. Elder Nelson gave a wonderful devotional to the missionaries at the MTC. It was powerful and I felt that I needed to take a closer look at my diligence to the rules. It was moving and touching in ways that only God can describe.
The Teaching Resource Center (TRC) Investigators that we taught were completely awesome: We taught Lome in the mornings - he was a little difficult to connect with at first, but slowly became more receptive to the teaching as we went along. Jonathan is diligent with reading that I was shocked - he made it through 1st Nephi in only 2 days. He is from Alaska, so Elder Allen, Stephan and I could connect with him super easily.
Theo, oh, Theo - I love Theo. He is quite simply awesome. He lives in Vegas but comes to Provo during the week to take care of his Grandmother, who is ill. He asks the best Questions and reads what we ask him to read. Both He and Jonathan have agreed to be baptized, at least in character.
BTW: for those who do not know TRC is where nonmembers, recent converts, lifelong members, and recently returned missionaries can volunteer to offer the Missionaries at the MTC practice at teaching Investigators - Each person has a character and does not break, although some of the nonmembers wind up getting baptized every few months.
Oh my word, the classes. I probably have a really poor attitude about the Classes. It's just that I feel like I'm not getting much, if anything at all, from them. They are almost always at least one day too late to be useful, meaning that we had already figured out, on the fly, "how to do" whatever it is that we were learning about.
Journey to Alaska – Week 2
On the first day of the week, during the last watch, the alarm rings and I, Elder Dalin, not knowing how much sleep my companions and I had received, awoke. I gathered together my shower supplies and took a final Shower in the MTC. I returned to my room, where I got dressed and finished putting away my possessions inside the Suitcases.
And it came to pass, that after I, Elder Dalin, had finished packing, went to the Travel Office with my companions, Elders Allen and Stephan. As we arrived, we checked out of the MTC and were able to load our luggage onto a truck that would bring our possessions back unto us.
I, Elder Dalin, and all those who were departing the MTC that morning did step into a Bus, and did travel a Train Station where we waited for an exceedingly great time. I used this time to ponder and pray, thanking God for the opportunity to serve him in all his glory. The Train Arrived. Now it came to Pass, that we did depart the Bus, and traveled via Train to the Salt Lake City Airport.
We recovered our luggage and began to travel the way to the Gate, but not the gate of Eternal Life, only the gate to Anchorage, Alaska. After this had taken place, and we had met Elder Stephan's parents, who provided us breakfast, we then did Leave the Land of Provo, and did fly in the air to the Land of Seattle, home of the Seahawks, according to Elder Stephan.
And it came to pass that we did wait for our final plane to take us to Anchorage. Once we were safely aboard, I, Elder Dalin, did fall into a deep slumber, only to waken to a sweet cup of Nectar, nectar that was desirable above all other drinks. This nectar of apples was a great comfort to me, and I did drift into another slumber where I had a dream. I remember not the dream, nor what it contained.
Now it came to pass: after I, Elder Dalin, had landed and left the aircraft we did meet our Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Robinson. These servants of our God are of exceedingly great character, and are great people. Thus it came to pass, that I, Elder Dalin, did journey to the Mission Office for Orientation.
And now it came to pass: that on the second day I, Elder Dalin, did depart from my companions and did travel to the land of O'Malley so that I could be trained. Elder Mahler took me to the place where we would rest our heads at night, and we dropped off my possessions. Then it came to pass that we did get some sustenance for our bodies that we might better serve our Lord, thy God.
Now, after all this had taken place, I was introduced to the area, and did partake of some dinner from a Brother and Sister Bybee. Then it did come to pass that I, Elder Dalin, did meet the Malouf Family and Brother Pentar. Thus it came to pass that I did unpack and then laid down my weary head.
February 2015 - Fun Times and Stuff – Week 3
This week has been awesome. My Trainer, Elder Mahler, is a great Missionary. He is diligent, obedient, and a great Trainer. The best part: even though we are opposites in terms of hobbies and/or interests we get along really well. We even have some of the thoughts, like eating healthy.
And now it came to pass: That after I, Elder Dalin. Just Kidding, not doing that for a while.
The members here are awesome! They are truly generous, and love to feed us - which is mostly awesome (just not for eating super healthy and losing weight.) But that is all good. I love it here. Last night is was -2! Awesome! I love it. I actually put on a pair of thermals. It was great.
Throughout the week we did some tracting, which is interesting. A lot of people are not home during the times which we are doing so. However, since we do not have our afternoons filled with appointments, it is really one of the best things we can do with our time.
This first week has been a wonderful time of growth and learning, and I cannot wait to do more of it. I know that what I've been doing is the right thing for me and that I left exactly when I needed to. All is done on God's time.
Meetings: Life of a Missionary – Week 4
Anyway, on Tuesday I had District Meeting, which is was really cool to talk to the other missionaries in my district. Afterwards we went to Olive Garden to get lunch together and it was very tasty. I was just going to pay for my meal, when our server said that someone had already taken care of the bill. I was happily surprised. So was everyone else, as our entire district which is about 10 missionaries had their lunch bill paid. We left with the thought of extreme gratitude in our hearts.
The next day, we had Zone Conference, which was filled with much training and much laughter. I got to visit with other missionaries and even talked a little with President Robinson (My Mission President, in case you hadn't caught on yet.) Elder Mahler and I left and continued the work.
Then on Thursday, we had a "Trainer Trainee Training," which was super neat because I got to talk to Elder Allen, and Elder Stephan, and even some other Missionaries that I don't get to see. We learned about more effective study and we did some training with teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So fun, and we went back to work.
That night we had our apartment inspected, and apparently it was so good that Elder Dunn (the Alaska Anchorage Mission Housing Coordinator) named us the Housing Missionaries of the Month and each Elder Mahler and I Five Dollars each. The funny thing, The apartment wasn't even that clean, it was passable at best. Hey, if Elder Dunn says its good to go then I'll accept it.
On Friday we cleaned our apartment, we took out no less than seven huge bags of junk that had been left behind or forgotten by previous missionaries. That night Elder Mahler exchanged me for Elder Goodsell, and I became the companion of Elder Farmer. The exchange taught me a lot. Elder Farmer is a great missionary and really fun to work with.
As we talked, he called me the Animated Movie Hipster, which is partially true I guess. Anyway I met an investigator named Kim, who had survived a terrible fire. Her story was amazing, and she is so willing to learn. I also met Sister Webb, who has SO MANY ANIMALS. And I mean a lot. She let me feed her “Puddle with eyes," and hold one of her many snakes. Also as we (Elder Farmer and I left) her dog went into labor and had a puppy.
Like I said, this week was crazy and went WAY too fast. If every week goes like this, I'll be home before I even began. I love this work, and am having a blast with most days. I'm so glad I came here and I love it. Also - It isn't that cold here. The coldest it got was one below. And due to how dry it is here, it feels warmer than Iowa minus One. Maybe I'll get to Fairbanks, and actually have to wear many layers; right now I'm fine with my shirt and a Sweater or the liner to my 3 in 1.
Chrono Trigger: Totally not a Nerd Joke – Week 5
This week went so fast it felt like I was traveling through time. I got my first package from home this week. We tracted for a few hours this week. This week was fast, and I mean fast. Yesterday I looked at the calendar and was surprised that it was in fact Sunday! I do not know if a fast week is good or bad yet, but I'm leaning towards good. On Thursday, we got a new investigator. His name is Jared, and he is seeking for the truth and is so ready to learn about the gospel. I'm so excited for him.
Friday I went on another exchange, this time with Elder Vang, who is Hmong. We actually went over to a member's home and made them dinner. Elder Vang and I made 5 dozenish Spring Rolls. They were very, very tasty. It was exciting and I loved spending the day with Elder Vang. Like I said, this week went way too fast. I cannot even remember how much we did this week.
General Authority Visit – Week 6
So, in one of my emails last week, I said that today, Wednesday the 18th of February 2015, that Elder M. Russell Ballard would be visiting the Alaska Anchorage Mission and speak to missionaries on his way to Asia. As it turns out, it was one step better. I, a missionary - merely myself, got to shake his hand. But that is for later; for now I shall report on the previous week. What a crazy and completely zany week I had. First we had a wonderful dinner with the Chavez Family. A really neat family - had Guacamole made in the Central American style.
On Wednesday, a week ago, Elder Mahler was sick - and I had to stay home most of the day. But all was not lost for the day; I got to do a lot of Personal Study. I also had some time to turn on some music and just ponder over my studies and draw a little bit. I was happy to return to missionary work the next day.
What a day, what a awesome Thursday. Elder Mahler and I got to go with other Missionaries and bag bales of straw for use as bedding in the Iditarod. WHOO! Yeah! So much fun, got to throw lots of Straw, got straw into every crack in in my clothes, filled my lungs with Straw dust, and had hands that looked like they had been through a wringer. But, It was so much fun, and guess what - I get to do more Tomorrow!!! I love service! Later that night, we picked up another Investigator and taught him the Restoration. So much fun, Keegan is.
Friday, the crazy day. Also Friday the 13th. So, the week before Elder Mahler got a phone call from one Jeff. Jeff was less active and Elder Mahler had helped him become reactivated and was going to the Temple for the first time in over a decade. Jeff then invited us to go with him, and we had clearance from President Robinson, so we did go with him and sat in a Temple session. The cool thing about it, was that the brothers outnumbers the sisters by a significant margin. Nearly all the Brethren were there for Jeff, and the session was overbooked by the way. What a simply amazing day.
Next up is Saturday, the super zany Valentine's Day. So, around noon we get a call from the Zone Leaders, Elder Vang and Elder Nichols, asking if we wanted a third missionary for a few hours. We said of course as we needed someone else to go with to an appointment today and everyone else had "Valentine's Day" things to do. So Elder Russell showed up at our door during lunch, and we found out that he was serving in the Kodiak Island Area and was awaiting his flight back there, as he had come up for a Zone Conference. We took him to our appointment and it went amazing, and we also gave a Priesthood Blessing.
Then we went to visit several families, as Elder Russell had previously served in the O'Malley area. After that we were driving him to airport - which was awesome, got to see a bunch of Anchorage this day. We waited and the Zone Leaders brought his companion, and then we left to return home. But, we got a call from the Kodiak Elders and Elder Russell had left his Scriptures in our truck - And their plane left in 20 minutes. Fortunately, they were flying Ravn which meant that they didn't have to go through security. We turned around and hauled back over to the Airport to return his Scripture to him, 5 minutes before the plane left. Also, I saw my first moose as we driving to or from the Airport. I cannot remember which. Wow, that's a pretty awesome week, yes?
Then, Between Monday and Yesterday, Elder Mahler and I were able to through the Spirit of the Lord invited two of our Investigators to be Baptized on specific dates. And they Accepted, both of them. Now, finally, after an entire week and half worth of Crazy and Zaniness, we come to talk about the Visit of Elder Ballard. But first, coming out of morning sports at the Chapel I saw a second Moose - this time we had to walk past it to get our Truck, it was awesome.
Now, during Personal Study we got a text from our District Leader, which said that Elder Ballard and Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy wanted to shake the hands of every missionary at the meeting with him. When we got this news it took a few minutes for it sink in and then another few minutes before I got back to studying.
The meeting was awesome; it was at our Stake Center (that is the Brayton Chapel as it is called.) The moment he entered the room, the spirit flooded the entire chapel and there was not room enough to hold all the excitement and spiritual energy in it. As both Donald A. Rasband and Elder Ballard spoke, it was amazing, I took a few notes here and there, but mostly I just listened to them.
The thing that stuck out to me the most this day was something that Donald A. Rasband said: "I want you to be a full purpose missionary. A full purpose missionary is one who does the work with the last five words of the missionary's purpose in mind."
Those last five words are: and Endure to the End. This means that what he telling us to be, was to teach with the temple and the end in mind. I am so excited to be working here in the Alaska Anchorage Mission. It brings me great joy, and I hope I can give that joy to others.
Also, Break-Up (what Alaskans call the beginnings of spring) apparently has arrived early. The past few days have been filled with nothing but slush and ice. No snow, in fact, the Iditarod is starting in Fairbanks this year due to the lack of snow. Temperatures are in the 40s and 50s, it is crazy.
March 2015 - It’s beginning to look like Break-Up – Week 7
So, this past week, (or half week rather,) has brought warmish (at least for me,) weather to the city of Anchorage. Rain has melted much of the snow and turned the roads into a sometimes slush, sometimes icy mess.
However, that did not discourage us. We went to the Iditarod service on Thursday and carried around 50 pound bags of Dog Food to be sent out to the various checkpoints and what not. It was fun and not taxing at all. We waited in a line for about 5-10 minutes then got a bag, then moved it the location where it would be stacked, Stacked it. Then we went to the back of the line again. Also, I got to talk to Elder Stephan for a while during our service, it was great to talk to him, and then to return to Missionary work. All has been quiet for the rest of the week, just Missionary work which is great fun and very enjoyable.
We got another new Investigator, by the name of Ian. He is a great kid. His mom is a member, but he is not. All-in-all a great week, and there is another amazing week ahead of me, as on Wednesday I get to go to the Temple again!
First Transfer over – Week 8
Last Monday, after I emailed home, we went to get our groceries for the week and one Sister Hammer from another ward came up to us and told us to put out stuff in her cart and that she would pay for our groceries this week. Two other missionaries had already been found by her, so Elder Mahler and I did the only thing we could think of to do and put our stuff in. I am so very Grateful for her charity.
This week has gone by so fast. We taught a bunch of lessons this week. Jared and Keegan have been rolling along, almost like the Juggernaut. Nothing seems to slow them down. My first Transfer is over and Elder Mahler and I will be staying in the O'Malley area which is fine because Jared and Keegan are scheduled to be baptized this transfer. We have even begun to walk around a little bit, in light of the mild weather (not even requiring a Sweater) to see if we can't find some people that way.
I'm so excited to see what the next six weeks brings me. I cannot believe it has almost been two months since I left for the Mission, time has gone by so fast and I am loving every minute-second or however long the Missionary adjustment in the Time-Space Continuum actually is.
Retrospective – First Chapter
It is strange to look into my past and see how far I have come. I know that this is what I needed to do in order to become who I am today and to achieve my future goals. However, looking back over these experiences, I really feel as though I grew a lot over a very short period of time. My entire lifestyle had changed in the blink of an eye and I could no longer remain who I was, I had to adapt to survive. These first eight weeks taught me the importance of focus and diligence, as well having compassion upon your fellow creatures. Yet, I still hadn’t fully embraced what it meant to be a missionary or what it was to serve others. This is something that I would still have let to learn.
I would also like to thank all those who had made an impact during this formative time of my life, and special thanks goes to Taylor, who had shown me so much and taught me how to become the best missionary I could be. I loved my time with my trainer, and I had a lot of fun during my first few weeks, it was a complete blast. Even with all the rules we had to follow we still had much fun and could enjoy ourselves a little.
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