Sister Rounds

Sister Rounds
California Arcadia

Saturday, January 30, 2016

I've Noticed...

There are some phenomenal things I've noticed lately. If I don't capture them while I'm thinking about them, they might slip away from my memory and I don't want them to be gone forever. Here are some fun noticings:
  • Asian people have ever and always looked identical to me. They all have dark eyes, olive skin, and black hair. I'm noticing that they actually look very different from each other, and different Asian cultures have their own characteristics. Chinese people actually look different from each other!
  • I've noticed that earplugs at night help to block out some significant night sounds, not completely, but they are muffled enough they don't wake me up startled like I used to. They are easy to locate, because of their bright pink color.
  • I've noticed special things coming addressed to me in my mailbox every few days. Sometimes it is a card, sometimes a colored or drawn picture, letters, Amazon packages, or other fun packages. I LOVE getting important mail!
  • I've noticed with great interest 2 quotes that were hanging in my new office at the ResourceCenter, when we switched around office configurations. They were left over from some missionary somewhere along the way...      

I love reading them multiple times a day.
  • I've noticed, with great pleasure, the walls of my sanctuary bedroom filling up month by month with wonderful, beautiful letters and drawings by grandchildren. It won't be long before my entire bedroom is wallpapered in special, colorful pictures, sent lovingly by missed grandchildren. It is totally my happy place of refuge.
(Experimenting with a selfie stick...) A little of my happy place is seen in the background
  • It's hard not to notice the cute songleader in Chinese sacrament meeting. Though music time signatures completely escape her, she is quite energetic and enthusiastic as she leads the singing in her own kind of time and space. It's almost like watching a dance. And Elder Pao on the piano just doesn't watch her, or he'll lose his place.
  • My name appeared on the baptismal program for Flick's and Ivy's baptism for the closing prayer. It was quite noticeable that it was the ONLY English name on the entire program! Written in English. Among everything else Chinese.
  • I've also noticed a plaguing strange-hair phenomenon in LA. My hair has taken on a mind all its own. It acts totally foreign to how I've been used to it my whole life. I can't explain it, but photos seem to be able to pretty well!   Refer to horrendous selfie above.
  • I've noticed huge differences in the progression of those who WANT to learn English, and really apply themselves to do it, versus those who don't put in much effort. Jobs, abilities, communication, happiness... so many things are amazingly connected to English-speaking ability.
  • One fabulous thing I've noticed is the rich and wonderfully varied diversity in our little Alhambra Ward. So far, in addition to many American states being represented, we also have members who are Anglo, Hispanic, Samoan, Iranian, African-American, Filipino, Asian, and Ethiopian. I love it!
  • And I've also noticed with great amazement, impressive dedication of others in their callings. I notice regularly President and Sister Lee, who live quite far away from Alhambra, but are at the church, activities, and functions of the Chinese branch so regularly, on any given day and time. They put their whole souls into their calling in leading this little fledgling branch. And it shows! The branch is growing by the week as these remarkable souls tend to their little flock, watching baptisms and fellowshipping each new member as they come into the fold. These and so many others are people I dearly love.
And there are other happenings to notice too.

Like when I notice a lot of Chinese friends from English class watching me to see how to form words and how to make your mouth look when you're trying to say specific words. Even though I'm not the teacher, they like to see how a native English speaker forms the words.

The REAL teacher of class
"Caught you on camera!"

This particular word was "Camera." I popped my camera out of my bag in a flash and caught them completely off guard! They're great.

I also notice that we will find any excuse to go to Menchies for frozen yogurt. This particular occasion happened to be commemorating Sister Xia's year mark, and Elder Ng's 6-month mark. YAY for Menchies!! Our go-to place for ANY excuse of a celebration!!

Sister Wilde, from Idaho Falls. 
I've also noticed, with GREAT pleasure, the                       Spanish-speaking hermanas that live in the                         Chinese sister's apartment with them, Sister                        Wilde and Sister Austin, love to come over for                Sunday Night Treats also. When they aren't                       teaching. They are also very awesome.

Sister Austin

Sister Wilde is very close friends with Calvin and Christy Slater. It's so wonderful to learn of home connections everywhere you go!

One can't help but notice the musical abilities of Elder Pao, a concert pianist from Taiwan. One night after English class, he sat down and began playing something he found on his IPad, just to see if he could. There were a few stragglers from class, and we were all lucky recipients of his extemporaneous concert. It was truly wonderful. And he's tall, so he plays basketball almost as well. He's considering going to USU after his mission, where he'll continue pursuing music. Cool!!

I notice, if I just open my eyes, ears, and heart, there is a multiplicity of wonderful things to notice each day!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

P-Day Extended

January is quickly coming to an end already and I am still trying to solidify my New Year's resolutions. I guess that might be an ongoing set of goals.
Last weekend was a long-awaited visit from Ruthe. She told me several times how many people wanted to jump into her suitcase and come. Awwww, that makes me feel very loved!

After yet another wild (but becoming more confident all the time!) adventure to LAX to pick up Ruth from the airport, we did some of the usual things we do when visitors come...
 went to the Pier, where Route 66, running all across the country, literally ends at the end of the Santa Monica Pier at the edge of the ocean.
 Enjoyed sitting on a bench by the ocean, talking for long periods of time...
 walked the beach, where few people actually were -- too cold for Californians!
 Ate at Bubba Gump's Shrimphouse. YUMMY!
 Spent a significant amount of time at the LA temple, doing initiatory names, and then a quiet endowment session. What we did that was NOT usual, was sit in the massive and beautiful Celestial room for a LONG time, enjoying the peace away from a boisterous city, sharing whispered conversations, and then eating dinner in the cafeteria. I've never eaten there before. We had...get this... in the temple!? Prime Rib!  And spent a long time in the cafeteria talking some more.
 We visited Santa Anita horse racetrack, had macademia pancakes at Aloha Food Factory, morning walks in neighborhoods and Almansor Park, to visit the fat squirrels, late-night talks, crazy adventure into the Asian grocery store, and mostly enjoyed being together.
 Of course, Fosselman's hand-churned ice cream shop is always a MUST VISIT.
The highlight of her trip came quite spontaneously, however. We were coming home from some adventure in the car, when the missionary sisters called, asking us if we wanted to share dinner with them. So we all went to Taco Bell, and then they got a call that a brand-new convert couple, Flick and Ivy (and Eric, their baby) needed to move from the room where they were living in a shared house, to another room in another shared house. Ruth got the chance to see what really goes on in these humble lives. She saw first-hand their plights in coming to America, and without understanding their language, understood their hearts and huge courage. She loved being with all the missionaries, as the entire brigade of Chinese missionaries suddenly appeared to move every personal, physical belonging of Flick's and Ivy's, in all of about a dozen boxes, to their next humble home. She loved becoming, even for a small moment, part of this Chinese event and culture. The Chinese people are SOOOO appreciative of the simplest things we do! She immediately loved them, and they loved her. And when it was time to leave Sunday after having experienced our whirlwind Sunday of English and Chinese ward activity, she was sad, realizing she may never see these sweet, good people again. 
I loved having her come!
She helped me to see my mission through new eyes. 
Though she participated in some real things, she sees so much through rose-colored glasses. That's one of the things I love most about Ruthe. She sees the world from such a childlike viewpoint, it's contagious when I'm with her. She has the ability to make me see how very special this process of what I'm participating in really is. 
It was revitalizing, sharing our vastly different worlds with one another.
Elder Pao, Flick, Ivy, Elder Ng
The week before Ruth came, this sweet young couple was baptized. They are already talking of their little Eric going on a mission. They are trying so hard to learn English. Flick is an accomplished web designer by profession, but of course, when they come to America without speaking fluent English, they have to start completely over in barrel-bottom entry level jobs. They are excited that Ivy is preparing to take her test for a driver's license. That is HUGE in this big area of commuting, and the type of job you can actually get, if you have dependable transportation. 
What a wonderful couple.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ring in 2016!!

What a year 2015 was! Most of it was spent in southern CA on a mission, and 2016 will top that! The ENTIRE year will be spent here. There is still so much more for me to learn and countless areas of growth for my life, I'm afraid. I'm sure Heavenly Father's plan for my life includes lots of discomfort and severe stretching. So let's stretch into 2016 and begin the building!

This year's pre-2016 began on New Year's Eve as I accompanied the missionary sisters to President Yen's home for hotpot. He has been recently released as counselor in the mission presidency, and what a kind pair he and his wife are! So hospitable and anxious to please.

Hotpot is a brewing soup base in the middle of the table on a burner that keeps it at a slow simmer as you add fish and various meat balls, dumplings, interesting vegetables, noodles, roots, and all kinds of stuff I didn't recognize and I'm sure I could not pronounce if I even knew what it was. Hotpots are a Chinese family traditional meal that invites harmony, as all eat out of the same pot, and it emits the feeling of warmth and homeyness with hot soup. That's why the Yen's thought it would be a great idea to start a new year with those symbolic unified beginnings. (Even though the Chinese actually celebrate their New Year in February!)
Chinese missionary family with President and Sister Yen

Which ones looks different than the others?

The next morning on New Year's Day 2016, bright and early, we caught the Metro in Highland Park to go watch the Parade of
Roses. Effy's sister, who lives close to the parade route, had also gone early to set up chairs for us to watch the parade. What an experience to be SOOOOO close to the action!

It began with planes overhead forming jetstream writing. Cool. Amazing to watch their synchronized formations.

I'm absolutely certain I don't know which wonderful parade entries to include, without all the photos becoming so monotonous, because every band, car, float, and horse formation were completely impeccable and beyond impressive, from start to finish.

Though the crowds were insane, we still had wonderful seats that we could see every single thing, and we were close enough to see clearly each beautiful flower on every entry.
The horses and carriages throughout the parade were unparalleled!

For all the Downton Abbey lovers, an incredible float complete with theme song streaming along with it, with Matriarch Cora Crawley sitting in the show's beautiful Rolls Royce, waving to an ecstatic crowd.

Here it comes...
Here it is...

There it goes.

From start to finish, even the back of each float was adorned impressively with flora of all types, colors, and patterns.

Here it comes...
Here is is...

There it goes...
EVERYBODY who is ANYBODY had a parade entry.

Every single entry had won a prize. This particular entry won for best animation, because the flamingos all spun around and around in their umbrellas to outrageous music. So cute!

Of course, what good is a parade entry if you can't zipline on a rope from one end to the other?! Of course!

The overall winning entry in the parade was, not surprisingly, submitted by the Disney Conglomerate. People went crazy because it was S - U - P - E - R  LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG!!!

And finally... the end of a very impressive and long Disney float, featuring many of our favorite things and ending with Star Wars.

There was a very cute and very miniature horse...along with great big draft horses.

Included were a variety of cultural entries from various ethnic groups.

And tons of high school and college marching bands.

And a host of parade helpers throughout the entire parade, all in white suits, red ties, red helmets, on white  scooters. It looked so cool and completely uniform.

Even Alhambra City had an impressively beautiful entry which characterizes our fair city.

But that wasn't all that was great about New Year's Day 2016. That evening I had the opportunity to go with Janessa and Sister Plumb to dinner to celebrate the holiday and a new year in this very unique setting.

HAPPY NEW YEAR             TO US!!

And the very next happening just 2 days later was the transfer of some of our "Christmas Chinese Family." Elders Fu and Kron left for other areas, and so did Sister Christensen, the Spanish hermana.
So Sunday Night Treats was like a Last Supper for our little band. How I've enjoyed those young people and we will all miss them.

 Funny Elder Fu, in all his dramatics, was sad to be leaving us all.

Elder Coca (on exchange), Sister Mann, Sister Xia, Tall Elder Kron, Short Elder Huang, Elder Fu, Elder Pao, Elder Ng,
Sister Christensen, Sister Austin
Family Photo
Let the fun (and work!) of 2016 begin!!!