Friday, September 30, 2011

Moose Warning

So..."Matt's Post-Mission Blog" was kind of a mouthful and didn't really roll off the tongue that well.  Accordingly, the name has been changed to "Towerbound" based on the results of the poll that was posted last week to determine the blog's new name.  I thought "SophoMormon" was a pretty good idea, but I'm a junior so it might have been a bit of a misnomer.

So check out the picture below of the "moose warning" that was posted on the front door of the residence halls today - Anchorage rocks!  There have been a couple moose hanging around the campus lately - mostly cows, it seems, but there have been a few bulls as well.  Nothing huge, though.

The other pictures are shots of the Lake Hood Seaplane Base - apparently the largest seaplane base in the world.  It's made up of two lakes - lakes Hood and Spenard, connected by a couple big waterways large enough for floatplanes to land on.  We had to visit as part of a class assignment. I thought the truck with no rear wheels (used for moving floats around on land) was particularly funny.

Moose Warning

Lakes Hood and Spenard

Planes docked on the shore of Lake Spenard

Crappy picture of a plane taking off from Lake Hood

Front-wheel only truck

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

N300PW, Merrill Tower, Winds 200 at 6, Runway 25, Cleared for Takeoff

So school is pretty cool - it should hardly count as 'going to college' because all my courses are about the fun stuff - aviation! Today I got to go up in a Kingair (a really nice twin engine turboprop) for about an hour and fly around (see the pictures below).  The Marine Corps was doing a recruiting thing at the school and had offered to take the aviation students flying as part of it.  I'm still not joining the Marines (much to Mom's relief and Cody's chagrin, I'm sure), but it was a cool experience.  I asked the pilot who took us how much it cost the marines for the hour long flight and he said that after including fuel, maintenance, and the per-hour lease on the airplane, it was about $1,200 per hour.  Thanks to all the faithful taxpayers out there for financing this trip for me!

It's fun to live here, too.  There are a lot of campus activities to take advantage of, plus hanging out with roommates, other aviation students, and the singles ward.  I can't say the weather is horrible, but it seems to be about 30 degrees below what it is in Riverton on any given day.  Yesterday we got snow in the mountains and it was about 40 degrees.  Shorts, flip-flops, and a T-shirt did a little bit to voice my objection to the temperature, but not much to change it.  Despite living in Alaska now, I still haven't seen too much of it - I've only really been in Anchorage (which does, in its defense, sport the occasional moose).  It was pretty cool today to get to fly up to a glacier without having to go too far from the city, though!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mission Summary

Due to popular request, I'm writing a post to give some 'closure' to the last two years of letters from Ohio.  I'm somewhat at a  loss for words when I try to think of how to describe my mission in summary; after much deliberation, I thought a few excerpts from my journal, written the day before I returned home, would best convey my feelings and thoughts. Brackets like these [ ] indicate additions made today for clarity.  Ellipses (. . .) indicate that some material has not been included.

August 3rd,  2011

It's Wednesday morning - Elder Bills and Elder Baird [our zone leaders] will be here in a little while to pick us up to go to transfer meeting - me to return home, and Elder Barlow to meet his new companion ( he's training).
. . .
I'm excited to see my family - I can't wait for the emotion to hit me like a brick wall when I get off the plane and see them.  But, despite the anticipation of good things to come, it is bittersweet.  I've often reflected on my mission as the happiest and most fulfilling time of my life - although it often feels like just a day or two has passed.  Many times during these two years I've told others or thought to myself how everything that happened before my mission seems like just a dream - like it was all just imagined and none of it actually happened.  If it were so, then I guess I'd now be embarking on a trip to dreamland.
. . .
I don't think I've ever really been trunky on my mission, but I have looked forward with anticipation to a couple things that will be happening today.   First, my departure interview with President Sorensen.  There is a special bond between missionaries and mission presidents.
. . .
One of the choicest blessings of my mission has been the opportunity to learn and serve under his tutelage.  It will be difficult indeed to say goodbye to him and Sis. Sorensen.
. . .
I also look forward to returning and reporting in the School of the Prophets.  I am excited to give an accounting of my stewardship.
. . .
Finally, I look forward to this last night in the mission home with some of the good friends from my mission.  These relationships with the other elders are among the richest of treasures.  I've grown a great deal in love and respect for other missionaries with whom I've served here, but there is a special bond among us who came out together and will return together. [Also, I had served as companions with a couple of the elders with whom I was returning home]
. . .
[continued that evening]
After departure dinner, we had a testimony meeting.  All the testimonies powerfully affected me, but it was the closing hymn, the Ohio Cleveland Mission Song [a rendition of the primary song "Armies of Helaman" with a couple modified verses], really got to me.  I was so choked up that I could barely sing every other phrase between the sobs.

It was great to kneel in the School of the Prophets and end my mission with a return and report to the Lord about my ministry and give an accounting of my stewardship.  I was initially disappointed to not have an overwhelming witness that my mission had been acceptable to the Lord.  Thankfully, I did not have to wait long. . . .
. . .

[end quotation]

Thank you everyone for your support all throughout my mission.  I have a strong testimony of the power of prayer, and I'm sure I couldn't have done it without yours.  I have come away from my mission experience with an invigorated knowledge of the reality of our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ, as well as a heightened testimony of the power of His Atonement.  I know that Joseph Smith saw Him and was directed by Him to begin this final dispensation of the gospel, and that President Thomas S. Monson is called of God as a prophet today just as were the prophets of old.


Matthew Smith

ps my new email is:
pps I'll probably write some updates about how school is going now and then, if anyone is interested.

The group that I went home with, plus Pres. and Sis. Sorensen:
Standing left to right: Elder Palladino, Elder Anderson, Elder Berry, Sis. Sorensen, Pres. Sorensen, Elder Martinez
Seated left to right: Elder Leake, Elder Haines, Elder Farmer, Elder Smith, Elder Hunt
The same group in front of the Newell K. Whitney store on departure day