Sister Rounds

Sister Rounds
California Arcadia

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Groupies

I've come to realize that a mission is an extreme adventure that includes each of the five senses multiple times daily.  It's a story of people and places and experiences.  Every person and place has their own story and inclusion of the senses.  I will never be able to recapture them all, but here are the most recent few.
Sister Chan was an awesome missionary, and I knew she only had a little while left when I came, but it was enough to come to appreciate so many wonderful things about her.  We all miss her so much, now that she has returned home to South Jordan, Utah.  She was Mother, Sister, Friend, and Organizer to the missionaries in Alhambra.  She will be back in one month with her family to have dinner in our very apartment and re-live old times.

Me, Sister Huang, Sister Thurgood, Sister Chan
 I'm also seeing that a mission is yet another series of "good-byes."  One right after another.

There are many groupie gathering times -- birthday parties, Sunday night treats and games, farewell meetings, baptism gatherings, ward and branch summer parties...

Sisters Only dinner.  We invited investigators, Rosa, her sister Maria, and Joy.

We had a combined birthday party for 2 elders, whose birthdays were a day apart.  Spaghetti was the menu choice, and it was slurped right down.

Sunday night treats and games is a great way to end a week and start the next.  Hopefully it's building groupie unity in the meantime.

There are the groupies at the Employment Resource Center also.  Effy had a birthday and MANY of her Spanish friends came and brought food... and more food... and more food... and cake.  Joel was there, of course, to direct the activity, and Effy was pleased.

She is quite an amazing woman.  A wonderful friend, respected leader among the Hispanic community, and blessing to the missionaries and patrons who come through the doors at ERS.

One of her responsibilities at the Center is directing those who seek self-employment.  This generally includes those who don't have a work permit in the US yet, who don't have a HS diploma, or are otherwise disadvantaged to find any kind of work.  She runs a craft class each Thursday, provides the  ideas and materials, and MANY come to make the crafts, then sell them at swap meets, fairs, and from their homes.  For some, this is their only source of income, so they really need these classes she provides.
One such story is that of Carlos.

As a young husband and father of 2 or 3 children, he was involved in construction work.  He did fine, until one day he fell from a high ladder.  He was lucky he didn't die, but it broke his back badly.  He's now, years later (almost 20 years) just limping around with a cane, always in pain.  Of course, he is unable to work, and it cost him his marriage.  He was depressed for years, feeling the pangs of being unable to provide for his family.  Effy found him and told him about these classes.  He comes and makes lovely things, even if his former wife makes fun of him for doing it.  He is a very warm person, always with a ready smile and greeting, though he speaks mostly Spanish.  I marvel at the courage of these people.  Their stories are incredible.

One of my recent groupies is Theresa Gilliam, a sister from the Alhambra English Ward.  She has lived here for decades, so knows a lot about LA.  We went one P-day Saturday to Olvera Street, the beginnings of LA.  It is a sweet little bricked street with vendors, shops, kiosks, restaurants, and entertainment.  We spent a very fun afternoon there, browsing Spanish shops and museums, eating authentic Spanish food, and filling up on awesome churros!
Here we are inside the old fire station.  This is when they had
horse-drawn wagons and big water barrels!

Here is a sampling of some of the
lovely items we saw on the street.
Many handmade items that I think grand-daughters
would love to see!

At a summer Valley Branch picnic, a brand-new experience to the Chinese Saints who know nothing of picnics, it was super well-attended.  Besides scads of food, we played routine American outdoor games that seem old and ho-hum to Americans but the Chinese loved them!
Sack races,

wheel-barrow races,
egg relays,
and an old-fashioned tug-of-war.
It was great fun!
Baptisms are events of themselves.  I have countless photos of Saints on their baptism days, but here is one of my nice friend, Judy, on her baptism day.  And a photo of President Lee and another bishop of a neighboring Chinese ward.

President Lee with the blue tie.  Besides being an awesome branch president, he's an engineer and professor at UCLA.

There's an assorted bunch of cool groupies that fill my life with blessings.
         Sister Gong,

     Sister Xia,

                                         And Sister Huang.  

Elder Fu, Elder Pao, Elder Asenjo, Sister Thurgood
An assortment of valiant missionaries, ever-ready for games at a ward picnic...                                                                    
One of the little mothers that came to stay temporarily until she had her baby was Lilly and her little girl, Ye-Ning.  Wht special groupies these became! Ye-Ning and I couldn't communicate, but we formed a sweet friendship, and each Sunday she brought me a picture she colored in Primary with my name on it.  After Lilly had her baby boy they returned to China.  But Ye-Ning's colored pictures adorn my bedroom wall and make me feel happy.

Another one of those never-ending "good-byes."
There are also other assorted groupies that add importance to my life.  Jezabel Weeks, another Alhambra English ward member, took us to a musical production.  Her daughter is returning home from a mission this next week, and she is very excited.

 And our Chinese branch mission leader, Doctor Lew, who had all the missionaries in his real-live home for a 4th of July celebration.  It was great fun to be in a beautiful, real home again.  We had a delicious meal and played some fun games.  Though his heritage is Chinese, he is American and speaks hardly a word of Chinese.  His wife speaks Mandarin Chinese, and what an enthusiastic groupie she is!!  They are both so awesome! They have been imported from a rather far-away stake to serve as ward mission leaders, so considering travel time alone, they are very dedicated to their calling and the branch is blessed by their service, week after week.

Group picture in the Lew's spacious family room

And then the p-day we went to a matinee showing of "7 Brides for 7 Brothers" that the stake presented.  I had to wonder how much these Chinese Saints actually got out of it, speaking limited English!  But they enjoyed the excitement, music, dancing.  Brand new experience for them.

These are our next-door neighbor groupies, the Carmona's.  Brother Carmona has been a single dad for many years, and is doing a large job and commendable work in raising 3 daughters.  The oldest (with the braid) just graduated from Seminary and would like to go to BYU-I.  They're a sweet family that I see most every day, in our comings and goings.

 And my dear friends, the Bunker's, who are the proud owners of Myrtle the Turtle and our apartment complex.  They are the youngest 90-something people I know!  They are some the the most fun people in my world to talk to, because of all they know from what they've learned over decades, and the stories and histories they tell from living in Alhambra for so many years.  Sister Bunker was mayor of Alhambra for at least 2 terms.  They are still very active in the care of our apartment complex.   They also have an amazing home with windows the size of all outdoors, that makes one feel like you are surrounded by nature while standing in their living room. Spunky little couple!

Here's my dear circle of groupies, the sister missionaries.
Sister Xia, Me, Sister Gong, Sister Chan, Sister Huang, Sister Huang (another one), and some little girl that stepped into the photo.???
Just for fun, here is the result of one p-day purchase by the elders that live in my complex.   They were excited and proud of their purchases.

And they are pretty awesome groupies, too.  The Elders, I mean.  And all the rest of the groupies of my LA Mission experience.

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