Sister Rounds

Sister Rounds
California Arcadia

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Here and There, This and That, Odds and Ends

Just sticking in a few random thoughts and photos from this past week and the passed weeks. First, this past week the director and assistant director of the ERS were in SLC for training. Without them there, and Sis Thurgood and I holding down the fort, it was busy enough and a little crazy when there were questions to be answered, but much less stressful with so many fewer people coming in to see those 2.  It's a little scary in that part of town, but there was generally Priesthood somewhere in the complex, whether teaching workshops, Storehouse, or just the little special needs elder that comes in because he wants to be on a mission.  The bosses are back tomorrow.

We do activities with two wards -- the regular Alhambra Ward (English) and the Valley Branch (Chinese).  So between stuff with 2 wards, we're busy most nights.  This past week we had 2 fun activities in the Alhambra Ward, one the RS Birthday dinner, and the other a cute little missionary activity with activity girls on Tuesday night.  Many times special activities require our picking up various people, and so for this activity, we picked up the 2 English sisters from a neighboring community.  One was from Ogden (Sister Baker) and the other from Tonga (Sis. Talinoa).  The little girls received "mission calls" and learned a phrase about the church in that language.  They also had a bag of items that they had to determine how those items related to a mission like a pan, watch, shoes, etc.   They each pointed to where they were going on a map

and then there was a Q&A period with the missionaries where they got to ask real questions.  It was cute and fun.

Wednesday through Friday is English class, interspersed with bicycle riding lessons still.  I'm getting cross-trained with weight-lifting with that activity!

This week was my first car-washing-in-LA experience!  You take your car to the auto "spa", leave it in the lane, and they vacuum and detail it, run it through the wash, dry it, do the windows inside and out, and dry down the car, then shine the tires in about 15 minutes while you wait.  They have little men on each car, so it provides lots of work for many.  We went on a quiet night, but there are still people lined up to have this done!  What a riot!  Can you recognize my highly visible Buick, unlike any other cars in this part of the continent?

Speaking of waiting, you will never believe the gas lines at Costco at any given time!  Sis Thurgood has a Costco card and can get gas for a better price there, but it comes at a price!

The other night around 11 pm, suddenly a helicopter came right in our neighborhood and hovered in the air for around 15-20 minutes, while all the while there were sirens going on.  Must have been some kind of extreme activity, but there was no possible way to pretend like you were going to sleep!  It gave me a new appreciation for the air raids during WWII. Crazy!

Last night we had four single sisters from our Alhambra Ward over for dinner.  They were a little older, 60-70ish,but we had a good time.  It must have been quite comical to look into our dining room for the after-dinner view!  We were all visiting, when one of the little sisters brought out her face cards and we all played a fun card game.  Yes, the rules for senior missionaries leave us quite a bit of latitude, I'm afraid.

We had a needed, heavy rainstorm yesterday and it brings out all the special creatures on the sidewalks outside our apartment.  Careful where you step!

Yesterday, we also had a stake service project to gather in donated food for the local food pantry.  It was a good activity and allowed us the opportunity to wear my jeans for the first time since coming here.  I had forgotten what they feel like! We also got to wear the famed yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" t-shirts.  Brand new pj selection for the grandkids!

Also, on our way home from the service activity, we HAD to stop at The Hat famed for hot pastrami sandwiches, which are to die for, and Sister Thurgood and I shared one for the road.   They are kind of messy, but oh, so yummy!!

Once each transfer, there is a missionary farewell meeting that we hear the testimonies of the outgoing missionaries who are leaving to go home.  It is called a "Despedida"  I'm sure I don't know the correct spelling of this Spanish word, but some of you do.  It's a huge event, for any members in the mission to attend, the missionaries and current companions, and any other missionaries who have an investigator who wants to tell these missionaries goodbye. So just for journal's sake, here are a few photos of outgoing missionaries from these meetings. You get a good look at my dear Sister Thurgood.

And lastly, here are a few tidbits from the past that I thought I'd throw in for good measure.  Jaimie will appreciate how my room looks like bright daylight both day and night because of the lights that stream in through my blinded windows.  I finally broke out my sewing machine for the first time and created a blocking curtain so I can have a dark night. . .
but it comes down first thing in the morning!  It's quite a science to clothespin this heavy curtain to a flimsy blinds valance, hoping it won't fall on me during the night!

And when we went to the Newport Beach temple . . .

and Balboa Island when we had a famous Balboa ice cream bar. . .

and frozen yogurt night with all the missionaries when Sister Callaway came to visit last week.  These are the times when a large group of missionaries get plenty of stares, but we are also getting to know the employees at the yogurt place very intimately for all the times we go there these days. . .

And we also met up with a past companion of Sister Thurgood's the first week I was here at a location outside our mission.  While we were eating there, two cute little girls came up to us and thanked us for our missionary service and asked to take pictures with us.  How cute is that?!?!

Lastly, also the first week I was here, our landlady and her husband, the Bunker's, also members of Alhambra Ward, take all the missionaries out once month for hamburgers and fries.  The Bunker's are so wonderful!  We will be doing that again this week.  I have actually been here that long!  Here is from that first dreaded week. . .

And there it is, from the beginning till now, all in photos and a little bit of dialogue.  What an adventure I never dreamed of having!  This is NOT what I ever thought MY mission would look like!  But there it is.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hoping weak things become STRONG...

This week was filled with temple.  Tuesday morning we were up at 4 am to transport a batch of excited missionaries to their bi-annual temple session.  Many had never seen the LA temple before, and I had yet to go inside.  It's very beautiful and very LARGE.  Each room is magnificent.  The little Chinese sister who knows so little English sat by me the whole time...with a headset, fortunately.  I'm certain she has had few opportunities to even go to a temple in her lifetime.

Group of Chinese missionaries.  Wonderful, strong, pioneers from their Asian countries.  And even a few Americanos, and one partridge in a pear tree . . .er . . .Chilean elder.

My most wonderful, awesome companion Sister Thurgood, and 2 goofballs in the background, Elder Sam and Elder Fu.
Still my most wonderful, awesome companion ever.

I also transported a  Chilean and Chinese elder companionship with their investigator, Joe, to the temple visitor's center when Sis. Thurgood couldn't go because of another appointment.  Driving there was a great adventure, but I have an awesome GPS system, thanks to my dear friend, Trever. Visitor's Center was also a lovely experience.  Funny thing about it was, the sisters who met us at the visitor's center were a companionship of . . .what else?  a Chilean and Chinese sister companionship!!  Hmmmmmmm. . . suspicious.

Sister Thurgood's last companion before me, Sister Callaway, came to visit because she's a little Idaho girl who missed the LA life!  WHAT?!?!? One of the things she wanted to do was go to the temple, so for P-day we went again. (Sorry, took no photos)  I love Sister Callaway too!  I've had some very good conversations with her and we've all had a good time together.  We went after the temple to a little 50's Diner for lunch and got stuffed. (Right, AJ and Em?)

Sister Thurgood and I took a lunch time one day and went to a famous sandwich shop in LA, Phillippe's.  Afterward, because we were in "the neighborhood" (in LA?!) we visited a large Mormon Battalion monument which is quite impressive.  Here is a photo of my world-class companion:

I'm still trying to teach Sister Gong English words.  I'm not sure they mean anything to her other than just memorizing what they look like, but in time I believe it will suddenly click on like a light bulb. I'm actually learning a few Chinese words, but not to be able to speak.  I don't have near the time the young missionaries have for language study.  Our little investigator, Jasmine, left this week for China to visit her family.  She'll be back to the US in August to finish her PhD at Rutgers U back east.  I hope there were enough gospel seeds planted.  She asked for a Book of Mormon before she left, and ASKED FOR each of our testimonies inside.  That's pretty big.

One of the hard experiences this week happened at the employment center.  A little homeless lady brought all her bags in one day and hung out and made calls and whatever she did pretty much all day until it was time for us all to leave.  We questioned her about how we could help her with her resume, register on LDSJobs, etc. but she seemed pretty self-reliant.  We had to ask her to leave as we all left to go home.  But she came back the next day.  Our director is a very good man, upright and magnifying his mantle in that center all the time.  He asked that we express our love and concern for her, and if we could transport her to a shelter in another part of the city where they have facilities to help her.  I approached her about this, and she flat-out refused to be taken to that shelter.  She explained that she knew where it was, and it was a place she feared for her life.  Unfortunately, the people who come into the employment center are looking for hope and confidence, not necessarily what she was exhibiting. I understand the whole professionalism thing, but it was heart-breaking to have to turn her away.  I kept thinking how the Savior might handle this in the most charitable way.  It 's yet another reminder how weak I am, but I can be made strong as I seek the Savior's guidance in these matters.  I'm pretty sure this won't be the last time I experience this.  But the first time leaves you always a bit shaky.

Just wanted to finish with images of some of our first-class meals that we have quite regularly in our apartment for groups of HUNGRY missionaries.  We pull out all the stops when it comes time to make them a good meal and lots of it.  They generally finish off every crumb and are very appreciative.  They are an energizing group for these old, senior sisters!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Home, Sweet CA Home!

I'm still trying to adjust to the rhythm of the lifestyle here.  I dearly miss the solitude of my blessed country home and all my family.  But I know this mission is not about ME so I'm trying to enjoy all the new stimulation that surrounds me.  At the beginning of this past week I read in D&C 100:4:  "Therefore, I the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls."  Each day is full and busy and I'm grateful that I go to bed happy, because I still wake up a little melancholy.  Some company bosses from Salt Lake came this past week to observe the facility here, both the DI and Employment Center.  It was good to have some Utah blood in our office.  They were very kind and appreciative of service that missionaries do.  I appreciated their kind words of encouragement.
We took the 3 young women next door to "Cinderella" for FHE.  They don't have a mom, and so we had a fun girls night out.  They had never been in the movie theatre before, even though they've lived their whole lives here.  So it was fun to do something so extravagant with them.
Teaching English to the Chinese sister who knows none is challenging, but rewarding.  She is finally starting to open up a little, and we are laughing together a lot these days, while trying to figure a lot out with sign language!
Lastly, here are some views of my "homes" where I most hang out these days.

Our apartment home in Alhambra.  It's quite nice, safe, and has several ward members and missionaries who live in the same complex.

And then we go to the "home" where I live during the daytime hours.  The Employment Resource Center, or ERS, as we fondly refer to it.

Even my very own office.  Just what I always wanted!!

The very best part about my office is the sweetest of decor adorning my
wall directly above the computer where I can look at my sweeties at any given time during the day!

And lastly, the church where we hang out almost every day of the week for something or other .  It's an old church, built in the 40's or some such time.  Its interior reflects the character of the cultures it serves, including an interior courtyard, that is completely open in the roof to outside.  That type of architecture could only serve a California population.  It wouldn't do very well under Utah snow!

All my newest Home, sweet homes!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Urban Jungle

Parrots and Earl and cars.  Who knew that flocks of parrots, who traditionally congregate in tropical, lush, rain-forested areas, would multiply and replenish the earth in LA?!?  But they do!  They are, of sorts, loud and obnoxious creatures, though very beautiful.  And the way they are different then magpies is that they are smart.
I can see why high-performance cars are popular around here, with the crazy driving that goes on.  But I have only seen one other Buick, one Dodge, and just a handful of other assorted vehicles.  THE ones that are a must around here are seriously ALL Toyotas (Little Green Bean would have been right at home here!!), ALL Hondas (why did I sell my Pilot again?!?), and Lexus (that was never a can-do for me!).  It makes me hope that my cute little Verano holds up for 2 years under this kind of pressure.
Earl.  An early mid-age bio-chemist that came into the Center after he lost his job.  He was out of work for several weeks and participating in what we call the Accelerated Job Search, wherein they work closely with the director of the center (Joel is his name -- my boss) and they do serious job-searching and skill-building in this program. So after not finding a job for this period of time, and being a new convert to the church, Earl talked to the missionaries in his ward one Sunday.  They prayed with him and told him if they would all fast he would find a job THAT WEEK.  What missionary can promise that? None of us knew anything about this fast or missionary promise. When he came to the center on Monday, more skill-building.  By Wed, Joel thought he'd just toss it all to the wind and go into a random job-staffing site, typed in the search line, chem*, just to see what type of things even remotely related would come up as options.  What should happen but ONE single job appears, one that he had the exact skills for, in his very area where he lives, which is HUGE in this commute-happy place.  Joel sent him there right away, they interviewed him on the spot, he got the job, it's a perfect fit.  He loves it.  Tell me inspiration doesn't play a part in the details of peoples' lives and I'll tell you to jump in the lake.  NOT coincidence!  I'm still trying to get the hang of it all, and my weaknesses are definitely computer-related, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of a small little wedge-size piece of it.
Across from our little grass-pieced oasis in Concrete City, is the old Sears building that had its heyday in the 50's, 60's and 70's.  It's now deserted but too large to take down.  There is a sign on one side that advertises its use for filming purposes, but in its dilapidated state, it seriously looks like a haunted version of Tower of Terror from Disneyland! Kind of gives me the creeps.

It's a whole new world out here, folks!! Far, far away from Homey solitude.  But there is much to do in the next 22 months.  And I aim to be part of it in the highest, most positive way I can.