Sister Rounds

Sister Rounds
California Arcadia

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Alhambra Halloween


I'm always a bit surprised when I realize I can still experience many "firsts" at this advanced stage of my life. This is the first Halloween that I've ever experienced at 87 degrees outside.  People don't even begin to imagine wearing costumes over the top of coats and jackets. Parents are out trick-or-treating with their children in shorts and sandals. I can only remember, ever and always, Halloween being cold and dark. NOPE! Not in Alhambra!

Our ward scout troop sponsored a fund-raiser for their scout camp next summer. They had a Halloween carnival, complete with dinner, booths of snacks, and games.  There was a wonderful turnout, and since both English and Chinese wards were invited, it was also quite a fun cultural event.

Even the missionaries got into the spirit of the event, and there was a significant turnout of students from English classes, who are not members of the church, who came and enjoyed.  Elder Fu swiped someone's blond wig, heh, heh!
Now we know how a blond China man looks!

Here are the missionaries with our dear friends and landlords, the Bunker's.  Brother Bunker is sporting an authentic Chinese hat, while Elder Ng is hiding behind the werewolf mask.

There were lots of treats too. The sisters and I couldn't resist the candy apples.

And I could hardly resist Yanny's little baby, Andy. Yanny is an investigator I brought that night, along with Alice, her daughter. They had a good time.  There was trick-or treating all around the classroom doors outside in the courtyard area.  Behind each door was someone passing out a treat, rather than the traditional trunk-or-treat method I remember forever and always.

This is how Halloween 2015 looked in my Alhambra world  this year (with Sister Martin gone home for the weekend).

Not every American LDS Ward gets to have Superman and his friend at their ward party!  Brother Jorgenson of the bishopric, and Brother Luneke, a former bishop of Alhambra Ward.  Both Super Men in my book!
Dorothy, Toto, and the Tornado.  The tornado had all kinds of leaves, animals, and debris in his twister. This is a new young couple who just came from BYU.  They are darling.
Some of my favorite young women ever, the Carmona's from next door. What makes them even more special, is the current traumatic event they are going through right now in their lives, and yet, they are still positive and happy, and doing all they can to have a good time.

So, here is how a piece of Halloween looked. The scouts did quite a fabulous job, and they went to a ton of work to make this a fun evening for so many.


Monday, October 26, 2015


This week was one of random.  Though each week is the same basic schedule, day in and day out, each week displays its own flavor of uniqueness as we power through. For example, last week while AJ was here mere hours, we passed thousands of vehicles on our short and memorable road trip. None were quite as memorable as Mr. Planter's Peanut van, which was beyond hysterical on a busy LA highway!
And though we were not fast enough on the camera, even better, just minutes later, we passed a van COMPLETELY decorated in eagle style, both in exterior painting and actual stuffed birds. It was covered in everything EAGLE, and it nearly fluttered down the highway with all its furry, feathered, stuffed friends virtually flapping its way in and out of cars! Someone must have been truly proud of their Eagle Scout!

FHE included an assortment of investigators, converts, and ever-ready force of missionaries.  After an inspiring lesson, we played a rousing game of PIT.  Can I just say that I believe everyone, everywhere, should experience a table full of Chinese people shouting out trades for this traditional, very American game!? 

It was a hoot to watch, and they laughed so hard, and had such fun!  It's a picture ( and sounds!!) in my mind's eye never to be forgotten!

We are now attending various ward councils in the greater LA area to introduce and promote LDS Employment Resources and let them know what resources we offer.  It seems to have been well-received so far.  We began in our own Alhambra Ward, and one of the women leaders attending that meeting decided to check out the Career Workshop we offer, just to see what was there.  She has been a dietician, working primarily with the WIC program, and was ready for a change. She came to the workshop the very next week, and it equipped her with skills that propelled her into a new position at a Care facility.  She is thrilled.  Very rewarding for us.

Friday night was high school football, and lucky for us, the field is directly across the street from the church.  There is lots of energy streaming from that side of the street on game nights.  I'm not sure what the occasion was this past Friday night, but just as English classes in the church were finishing, there were blasts coming from the general direction across the street.  Here is something of what we saw:

OK! That's a FUN halftime! And we just happened to be lucky bystanders to enjoy a random fireworks show! Maybe one comes to expect those types of cultural perks in a Chinese environment...
After all, isn't it the Chinese who invented fireworks? Hmmm... Random!

Here's the front hallway look when missionaries come over for Sunday night treats.  That's also cultural, shedding shoes as they walk into homes. We just hope they pick up the right ones on their way  out!

We had a memorable night for Sister Gong's 26th birthday party.  We had a big and delicious dinner, then our birthday activity was carving pumpkins.  This was a first-time for most of these missionaries.  No Halloween in China, sorry! They had gobs of fun, especially with the seeds and goo.
A slow, deliberate, careful beginning, quite unsure of what to do, or what to expect with this unique project.
Birthday Girl Sister Gong with Beautiful Birthday smile! What changes she's had to make in the past 9 months!  She's finally starting to relax and enjoy the experience more.  Now that she can ride a bike expertly!
And here is her expert and patient and amazing teacher.  Besides doing amazing things with pumpkin guts, Sister Xia makes sure they ride bicycles absolutely all over these crazy roads!
Elder Ng with a delicious spoonful. Pumpkin guts, anyone?
Each companionship earnestly carving their shared pumpkins, utilizing great skills in creativity and cooperation.  And definite, RANDOM craziness!!
Lovely Smile, Sister Xia!!
Finished specimens of companionship creations, just in time for Halloween display!
 This was a great way to enjoy and end a fun birthday celebration for our 26-year-old sister.  She is a girl of great courage and sacrifice.  She's had to learn hard stuff and try and be all right with very few familiar things.  She's learning things that will stay with her forever.  Even RANDOM things, like pumpkin-carving for her birthday!  Bet she'll never do that again!

And then there's SNT (Sunday Night Treats). We're adding to the forces.  Two Spanish-speaking sisters moved in with our two Chinese sisters, Sister Xia and Sister Gong. They are enjoying interesting communication, or lack of it, although Sister Xia is intentionally picking up some key RANDOM Spanish words and phrases. So we've now invited them for SNT, even though they are technically part of an entirely different district. They laughed so hard while trying to play Pit. Talk about a houseful!

Talk about a random week of etcetera!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Autumn in Alhambra

Is it autumn yet? Temps are in the 90's and the sun shines brightly each day. Here's how Alhambra autumn looks in this part of the world.

 Um, NO leaves will be fluttering gracefully from these trees!!

Fortunately, I received a package in the mail this week from my beloved family, and as I opened it, autumn simply floated out of the box.  Autumn now adorns our Alhambra apartment in California, even if the rest of the LA area has no idea about vibrant autumn browns, reds, and oranges, recently harvested produce in jars, and sweet-smelling cinnamon-pumpkin scented handsoap!

There are autumn leaves gracing our sliding glass door...

brightly-colored, carefully cut leaves framing our living room "decor"...

and leaves tumbling down all around "Herman," who thinks he's so scary as he welcomes visitors into our home.

 But that is not all!  Oh NO!  That is not all!  Step into my personal living space in my bedroom and find a lovely border all around the top of beautiful "Leaf Rubbings by Ashley," and "Heart of Leaves by Luke," and "Leaf Creatures With Accompanying Poetry by Sammie."  These are all great autumn works of art that fill my life with color and love.

Wonderful gifts of the season that totally gladden my heart!  Including the Kneaders cinnamon bread that came directly from AJ's personal Utah hands to mine!

That was another great thing from this week.  A fairly spontaneous and quick visit from AJ, here for one day in California on business.  Monkey business! Limo Business! We had a few hours between LAX and picking up a limo in Redlands, before a quick visit to the Redlands temple, and then he was off on his way back to Utah.  Fast, but so wonderful!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Rah-Rah for Sister Xia, Miss AWE(some)

This is crazy and cute Sister Xia from mainland China.  She is Sister Gong's companion, and both have been in the mission field for about 8 months.  She is the perfect fit for Sister Gong, because she's so patient, but hard-working and super fun and cute!  Sister Gong is finally starting to relax a little more under Sister Xia's expert care.  Sister Xia just expects to ride bikes everywhere, so she doesn't really care if Sister Gong doesn't feel totally comfortable on a bike.  They just do it anyway.  I absolutely adore Sister Xia.  She is one of the best people I know.  We've had some fun adventures, and she's doing super well at learning English.

She asked for a haircut.  Not a trim, but a haircut.  So we just plowed in and I cut it the length she asked.  Talk about bravery on her part!  It is totally unprofessional, but she loves it, and she's received so many compliments on her new "do."  The first thing she tells someone is that Sister Rounds is the professional haircutter.  BLAH!

Here is the brand new Sister Xia.  Minus the post-haircut wash.  But once she did wash it so we could see it dry, it really does look darling on her.  But then, when you start with a little China doll, little can go wrong with one so cute!

This week also provided an opportunity to take the missionaries to an early-morning L.A. temple session one day.  I took a carload of elders while Sister Martin took Sister duty.  We had a great time, even though we had to hurry afterward to still get to work that day. No time to take them all for breakfast, which is what we all really would have preferred.  Notice Awesome Sister Xia, sporting her new "do."  Totally awesome Sister Xia, right?
Sister Gong, Sister Xia, Sister Mann, Sister Huang, Sister Martin, Sister Rounds
And speaking of cute, here are some amazing elders, who like striking their own style of temple poses.
Elder Huang (The Greenie), Elder Fu (The Crazy), Elder Ng (The Handsome Brit), Elder Asenjo (Mr. Espanol)

Thomas is the latest baptism.  He is Echo's 9-year-old son.  Their family is coming into the church, person by person.  Still no Michelle in the picture yet.  Hopefully she will still be home soon.

Sister Martin, Elder Asenjo, Sister Rounds, Elder Ng, Thomas, Echo, Rebecca, Sister Xia, Sister Gong, Enthusiast

The Lovelies of my life presently.
Our latest p-day adventure took us and our mission office friend, Sister Beck, back to the Newport Beach temple and on to Balboa Island for a taste of the night life.  There was all kinds of Halloween pre-partying happening already.

Oh man!  They left their bodies somewhere!  Here are some sweet friends out lounging on the patio where hundreds walk past on the beachfront to see their skeletal remains!  How nakedly embarrassing!

There are many cool sites, ocean harbor with beachfront "cottages" complete with private docks, lots of walking and sight seeing, tasting, shopping, and our traditional chocolate-covered frozen banana on a stick.  I love this miniature "woody" car that was sitting outside a gift shop. PLUS, it sports a sweet surfboard on top.

Though I miss home and family dreadfully, I'm feeling the assurance of having been called here for specific reasons, some of which I may never know. I'm ever and always learning a lot, and perhaps catching on to what assistance I might provide for so many in need of personal self reliance. I'm enjoying many awesome things about this period of the mission in southern California and some pretty rah-rah awesome friends who have become an important piece of my life tapestry.