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Monday, June 15, 2009


Hey family! I'm in Alaska right now and it's my first p-day. Monday is my p-day here. The past half-week has been some of the craziest days of my life! I flew to Anchorage on Wednesday and met President Dance and his wife. They told me they talked to you, Dad. That's awesome. President Dance is a really nice guy, and his wife is really hyper and passionate about missionary work. She sounds like the mom on the Incredibles. She is a great cook and I'm pretty sure I gained like 5 pounds in two days. The average weight gain for missionaries here is 40 pounds according to sister Dance. That's insane poundage! I won't let that happen to me. We do our own thing for breakfast and lunch, but we get fed every night, and there are some amazing cooks here. So I bet you're all dying to here where I ended up, right?! Well Thursday morning at the mission home all the new missionaries gathered in a room at the top of the stairs while our trainers came inside and waited at the bottom of the stairs. It was really suspenseful and when I was introduced and went down the stairs, my trainer grabbed me off the stairs and swung me around because he's a lot taller than me, but then again who isn't. The trainers all did something for their greenies because here they refer to your trainer as your dad and you're his son, so my trainer, Elder Norton, had bought a baby bib that said 'I Love Daddy' and made me wear it for pictures. It was pretty funny. Well, out of the 8 new elders in our group, only two were going to be called to a location other than Anchorage, and we didn't get to find out until we met our trainer. The other elder went to Fairbanks, and I was really suprised to find out that I would be giong to Valdez! (said Val-deez) It is a six hour drive southwest from Anchorage, and was the most amazing drive I've ever been on. I saw so many glaciers! Valdez is a very small town of only about 3,000. It's in the Prince Willima Sound, and there aren't really any moose here, but there are tons of eagles, whales, and bears! There are supposed to be a ton of bears here in Valdez. Mostly black bears on the side I live on, and some grizzlies on the other side of the Valdez port. I haven't seen any yet, but I've seen so many bald eagles! They just fly around above you in the trees, and we saw one from a telescope in a members home feeding a seagull to her babies in their nest in a tree. Valdez is where the Alaska Pipeline ends, and we got to drive by it on the way to Valdez from Anchorage. There are big oil tanks here where the oil is collected and then shipped out. It's a small town and Elder Norton said we will most likely tract the entire thing. Missionaries are usually here for more than one transfer, but not always so we will see. Everyone said I am spoiled because Valdez is supposedly the most beautiful place in the mission and I get to start here. Sister Dance also said it's a high trust mission, because like me and Elder Norton, we are at least 130 miles from the nearest missionaries, and it is a senior couple in Glenn Allen, which we passed on our way to Valdez on the Richardson Highway. We have a phone like all the missionaries here so we can be in better contact with everyone. I'm also spoiled because I'm walking into a baptism! Tim is an investigator who has a baptismal date set up for this Friday, and Elder Norton and I will be witnesses. We have to miss zone conference because it is the same day, and we don't have time to do both with a 5 hour drive to Wasilla, so we will stay here and participate in Zone conference via a poly com. It doesn't get as cold here in Valdez, but it doesn't get as warm either. It's rained everyday, and I had to buy a waterproof jacket. We get an average of like 350 inches of snow here in Valdez, and it usually starts snowing in October, so we'll see if I am still here by then. It's only in the 40's and 50's here in the day so it's already a change. I miss you guys a ton! I think about you every day but I am still working hard. I love you guys! Love, Mat