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Monday, July 27, 2009

Elder Wood, a Bird Man, and more salmon

What's up family?!It's been an alright week so far. As you know we had transfers on Monday, and I drove back from Palmer with Elder Wood. We didn't get to leave Palmer until about 5:30, and we stopped to have dinner with Elder and Sister Hintze in Glenn Allen so we didn't get back until about 11:30, and didn't get to bed until a little after 12. It was extremely foggy and misty coming into town, and Elder Wood thought we were going to drive straight into the ocean because he hadn't been on the road before. That night was the first time I have seen Valdez get kind of dark because it was later and foggy. It's always light! Elder Wood is a good kid. He has been out for a year, and has served in Sitka, Eagle River, and Fairbanks. We don't really connect the same as Elder Norton and I did, so it will take some time to become close. He doesn't have the same sense of humor like me and Elder Norton did. He is from Alamo Nevada, which is 100 miles north of Las Vegas, so we can relate a little bit there. He is obedient and he has a good work ethic and wants to work hard, so I'm expecting good results from this transfer.

The Chief of Police here is a member, and he owns an ice cream shop that is the best in town, so we asked him if we could put a card stand up at the window with pass along cards for people to take, and he let us. People have been taking them, so hopefully that will help find people and plant seeds. We have also received some referrals from members that we are going to contact this week, so the work is moving forward! Yesterday we contaced the "bird man" in town. He is a falconer, and I've knocked on his door before, but he didn't answer the first time. Elder Wood knew someone in Sitka that wanted him to see him, so we went over and talked with him in his house. He brought out a young red tail hawk that was still getting rid of some fluff but had mostly feathers. It wasn't full grown, but it was still a big bird. He cut up a dead quail with scissors and fed it to the hawk in front of us. We sat down with him and started to discuss things with him, and the hawk jump/flew over and landed on me three times. It was getting annoying so I moved and he moved the bird. Anyway, the guy's name is David, and we taked to him for about an hour, and he drew out a scientific method on a piece of paper and showed us how religion isn't valid because it can't be proved, and that we base it purely on belief and not fact. He has talked to missionaries before, but Elder Wood and I talked to him about walking by faith and not by sight, and brought up Alma 30 when Korihor wants a sign that God is real and Alma rebukes him and says that he has had signs enough. We talked to him about the Spirit and prayer. He was a nice guy, and listened to what we had to say, and said that he prays every day and wants to believe in a God or higher power but can't be convinced because it doesn't follow the pattern of evolution and time and can't be proved with science. Hopefully he will come around.

Well, I forgot to tell you about Melissa and Brandon; the brother and sister we had on date for baptism. The were on date, but their mom is against the church and wouldn't let them be baptized. We can't go behind parents' backs, so we had to drop them as investigators and not teach them anymore. It was a bummer, and Elder Norton and I got a little down about it, but we kept working. We kind of have one investigator now so we'll see how that goes. Other than that it's all about having the faith to find someone new to teach. We will also be working with som less actives. There are two right now that are kind of priorities so we are trying to build them up and get them back to church. One was offended by missionaries early in the year, and was a recent convert. The other was also recently baptized, but his wife died right before they were about to go to the temple, and then he got offended by some members so he went less active. People can really get offended easily. Well, I am about to go help this guy move some stuff for his work, and then Me and Elder Wood are going to catch some pinks so I better go. Oh ya...the silver salmon will be coming in in a week or two, and I was wondering if you would want me to send home some fresh Salmon filets from salmon that I catch myself. They flash freeze it and ship it here, but it is pricey. I think for 10 pounds of meat it would cost a little over $100, but for every ten pounds of meat added it costs less and becomes more economical. Just something I thought I'd offer if you guys want silver salmon. Supposedly what you eat in the lower 48 is pink salmon because people here think they taste the worst, and they do, so they send them to the lower 48. Let me know! I love you guys! Love Mat

Saturday, July 25, 2009


The newly arrived missionaries in front of the Anchorage Temple, June 2009.

Mat's apartment in Valdez.

Tim Johnson was baptized by Brother Bradshaw and Mat and Elder Norton were the witnesses.

Fishing and catching pink salmon on P-day

According to Mat, Elder Norton did not love touching the fish!

Ready to cook.


Monday, July 20, 2009


Hola! Well mom I know that you are in Utah so I won't write a whole lot this week, and I don't have much to write about because not much has been going on. It's not that I don't want to write longer emails, there just hasn't been much to talk about lately. We still aren't teaching anybody. It's been hard having no one to teach, but I think I need to go back and study the lessons again so I will be more prepared when the opportunity comes. Well I am in an area called Willow right now in the library. Elder Norton and I stayed with Elders Anfinsen and Patton last night and we are having transfers today. Elder Norton is being transferred to Anchorage and I am staying in Valdez. My new companion will be Elder Wood. Tim Johnson, the guy that got baptized here, received the priesthood and was ordained a priest the other day. I was able to stand in and help in doing that. We were also excited because this week he started paying his tithing, and he doesn't have much money to spare, but I know he will be blessed. It is amazing to see the blessings people receive by being a part of the gospel and this church. I am going to continue to do my best and work harder every day. I love you guys and I'm thankful for the examples you have set for me and the support you give me. Love Mat

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fishing - Some days you don't catch anything

Hi family! Well this week was alright. It's really slow right now here. We don't have any investigators right now so it's kind of a bummer. We can't find anyone that is interested. Almost every single person we talk to has had the lessons with the missionaries before. It's a small community and missionaries have been here for years and years so everyone has been tracted into. We are almost done tracting the entire city. Well, Elder Norton has done some that I haven't, but the city is so small that I think if we tracted the entire day for a week we could get to every door. We only tract around dinner time when people are home, and then we usually interrupt them from dinner and wake some people up that work weird shifts. They don't like to be woken up. President Dance likes the area though, so it will stay open for now. He receives more inspiration than we do so there must be someone waiting to hear the gospel from us.

On Monday we went fishing over at Allison Point. The fish weren't biting very well for us so we didn't catch many. I had one on the hook but it fell off the hook right after it hit land on the shore and it flopped back into the water before I could hit it over the head with the club. The next one I pulled in got off the hook right before I pulled it to land, so I figured I probably wasn't snagging the hook in the fish's mouth hard enough, so the next one I snagged a little harder and brought it in to shore. Elder Norton killed it with the club and I filleted the meat for my first time. I didn't do too bad. Elder Norton only caught one fish, and I killed that one. He is afraid to touch fish haha so I had to filet the meat after I forced him to get a picture holding it. We cooked fresh Salmon for lunch when we got back and it was great! Everyone says that Red Salmon is the best and pinks are the worst but we had Red Salmon the day before and they weren't as good as the pinks we caught. But then again, I'm a master at cooking meat so of course it tasted better haha. We are going fishing again today in little bit so hopefully we can bring in a lot more fish.

We started biking a little bit this week. We obtained some bikes and helmets from members, and it's finally been warm and sunny so we biked a few times this week. Elder Norton's bike had a messed up tire, and it popped when he went over a curb, so we had to walk home from the post office. We're kind of on hold with bikes until we get a new tire. We got the tube replaced, but it's the tire that is messed up. This week is my "senior week" so I'm driving and leading the planning sessions and what not. It's an old thing they used to do with the last mission president, but the Zone Leaders thought it would be a good idea and Elder Norton is tired of driving so now it's my turn. I get to see a lot of cool things here, but there is also a lot of disappointment. Valdez is one of the slowest areas in the mission, and it can be really discouraging at times. It's hard to not have anyone to teach. Most people have problems with our doctrine when we talk to them at their doors, and we tell them we can resolve them, but they don't want to hear what we have to say. A lot of people say that they have already read and prayed about the Book of Mormon and got the answer that it wasn't true, so it's really frustrating. It's frustrating to know that they believe their answer is truly from God so they won't listen and don't care what we have to say. I don't have a whole lot of stories this week because we aren't working with anyone. We were able to teach a couple lessons at the door, which is interesting, but hard because there is so much important information you want to give them and it's difficult to condense what you have to say into something sincere and powerful in only a few minutes. Valdez is a really cool place but there are very few people who want to talk to us, and even fewer that actually want to hear what we have to say, and we haven't found them yet, so pray for us and the people in Valdez so we can find someone to teach! I love you guys and hope everything goes well at home! Love Mat

Monday, July 6, 2009

PLEASE don't feed the bears!

Hey family! This week wasn't quite as eventful as the others, and the work this week was really slow, but I still had some good experiences. President and Sister Dance didn't get in until night on the 4th so we didn't see them until Sunday. The 4th was a hard day. I missed you guys a lot. There were a lot of people in town, and so Elder Norton and I walked through town around all the celebrations so that the people could see us out and about and hopefully talk to us. We didn't think it was the best idea to try and talk to people in the middle of town with a fair going on and them enjoying time with their families, so we drove to Allison Point where we fish so we could try and talk to people there and see how the fishing was.

President and Sister Dance got in Saturday night and we spent Sunday with them. They are really amazing people. It took I think three full hours to get our interviews done with them, but it was good to see other people from the mission, especially the Mission President and his wife. We don't see other missionaries as often as most do in Alaska because we are more remote and harder to get to. We thought that President Dance might close Valdez because it is so slow, and everyone here has been tracted in to and talked to multiple times because the town is so small, but he thinks Valdez is an amazing place and that more work can be done. I think I will definitely be here next transfer, but we will see about Elder Norton. In my interview, President told me to go where the fishermen and the boats are, so I told that to Elder Norton and I think we will do that more now. Anyways, now on to the good stuff. This week was definitely a bear watching week. The Pink Salmon just got in a few days ago, so the bears are in. We decided to drive to Allison point to check out the fishing on Tuesday, and on the way we saw a big grizzly bear in the grass by the mountains off the side of the road. We stopped to take some pictures, and just so I can scare you on how close we got to it, I'll include some pictures in the email. At one point, we were only about 10-15 yards from the bear. It was AWESOME! There was a ridge between us and the bear, so it wasn't too bad, but my heart was definitely pumping faster haha. I know missionaries tend to not tell their families about these kind of things but what's the fun in that? I didn't think I would ever get that close to a bear, but it was so worth it! That's just how hardcore Alaska missionaries are, or at least the ones in Valdez.

We have been searching for people to teach, but it's been harder and slower. We have been tracting in town and the people have more money and are less receptive. We tracted into one lady that has Native American background, and said that one of the stories her forefathers told her was that a man who came back from the dead visited her people and spoke to them. I showed her John 10:16, and we are having her read 3 Nephi 11. She really connected with the fact that the Book of Mormon talks about what her forefathers told in stories. Hopefully we can teach her more. Well that's about it for this week. I'm positive that next time I will have more things to write about because we are going to try extra hard this week. I love you guys!

Love MAT