Sister Rounds

Sister Rounds
California Arcadia

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Up and Over and Down

I'm still winding my way through a 23-month mission. As I've inched my way upward, then over the top, and find myself on the downward trek, my life still fills with varied experiences, opportunities, and blessings. We still have our usual gatherings on Sunday night and though they look similar, each grouping takes on its own personality. We prepared to wish Elder Chui well as we sent him back to Hong Kong when his mission ended. His sister and her family came from Utah to see him before he went back to China. It was fun to have them join our Sunday night treats of seasoned french fries and... milk (?) (Missionaries love milk at ANY time!)

We also bid a temporary good-bye to Sister Gong as she transferred to English work, and to Elder Herrenau as he transferred to a different area before he goes home.
Dear Sister Huang, Sister Rounds, Sister Mann

I always enjoy Sister Huang when she comes on exchanges. She brings such light, life, and enthusiasm with her. It's no wonder she's a sister trainer in the mission. Very capable and energetic.

One rainy p-day, the Mascaro's, Sister Martin, and I went to Sylmar in the San Fernando Valley, about 45 minutes away, to a most well-kept secret. It was a museum called the Nethercutt Collection. It had MANY collections, primarily vintage cars, vintage musical instruments, and an assortment of other things so interesting to see. It was all free, which is unheard of in California.  We spent a most enjoyable p-day there, and will definitely take visitors to see this amazing collection.

The beautiful cars were restored to original perfection.

 American Austin (1932)
 Does that sound like someone we know? The biggest difference is that this one is teeny, tiny. Especially for a car!

Here are some beauties! And the cars aren't bad, either!
Sister Martin, Sister Rounds, Sister Mascaro
To me, this looked like perfect wedding transportation.

Of course, one of my all-time favorites...

Old-time fire engine. Way to fight a fire -- in style!!

GRAND SALON, styled in the way they used to authentically design car dealerships. They were serious car salesmen then!!

Grand Staircase, leading to upstairs level of musical paraphernalia collection
There is a sweet love story associated with this collection. It is the passionate brainchild of a couple who were married for over 70 years, and built an empire in a high-end cosmetics business. They also loved collecting. He made sure their special love song was painted on the wall extending from the bottom of the staircase and leading all the way along the wall to the top in gold notes. Very beautiful.

All kinds of beautiful instruments, music boxes, orchestrals, vintage phonograph machines, and figurine collections of instruments adorned the upstairs level. It also included a magnificent pipe organ, which we had the pleasure of hearing in recital.

Very fun day! We enjoyed the collection and our association together.

We also enjoy the association we have with others in Alhambra Ward. These wonderful sisters are so good to invite us to dinner and games. It always feels comfortable to be in a real and inviting, warm home, with people who we enjoy talking, eating, playing games, and laughing with.

So now to continue up, onward, and... oh yes...even downward at this point. And enjoy every single downward step.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Traveling Mercies

Spring is still actively springing, and completely rich in vivid and splendid colors! Alhambra spring is not merely confined to the usual pastel hues of springtime, but deep, rich colors on trees, bushes, and flowers in abundance! Morning walks bear out much of the springtime beauty, but also the foliage that frames our apartment building and other areas of the community is prevalent. The array of variety is stunning.

Proud Birds of Paradise everywhere.
Conglomerates of reds, whites, purples, and pinks in the same hedges.
Profuse pinks weighing down bushes.

Flaming magenta flowering bushes billow over the sides of highway walls, adding a colorful ceiling to railroad tracks and beauty to the cement highways.

Every time we walk out the front doors of Mormon Manor, we are greeted with a variety of color, texture, and fragrance. Eye candy for what could ordinarily be a concrete jungle.

On Easter morning, we woke up quite early to deliver Easter baskets to each missionary door, including the English Elders that live in another distant area of Alhambra. The Easter Bunny lives on!

Another fun surprise transpiring on Easter morning, was unexpected visitors to our complex's swimming pool. A Mallard couple had discovered the pool quite to their liking for a nice (clean!!) Easter swim. Cute and funny!
I find we are accompanied daily by traveling mercies on so many levels. Quite literally in our daily travel to work, we realize miracles all the time. We don't seek to take unnecessary risks in driving, although I've noticed a personal increase in aggressiveness behind the driver's wheel. It's required if you're going to stay safe in this traffic zoo! There are so  many times we should have been involved in an auto accident, but weren't. I'm certain we have attending angels safeguarding us.
Also, one horrendous day when my car decided not to start, and we needed it desperately that day for a number of reasons, it was fortunate that it had quit while it was safely under the carport at our apartment, rather than out somewhere in some dangerous urban area. Because of the nature of the starting problem, it appeared it could be a number of things, and probably the least likely thing was merely the battery needing replaced. I braced myself for some huge repair problem as we tried futilely to jump it to get it started just long enough to get it to a repair shop. My good neighbor, Jesus Carmona, who is mechanically skilled, but going too blind to assess the problem, helped me through the entire process, including going with me to a repair shop that he trusted, taking care of communicating with them, etc. (Everyone needs Jesus to go with them to get a car repaired -- heehee!) After a bunch of diagnostics, they found at finally last, that it was only a battery replacement. WHEW! Miracle of large proportions in my little life.
Because of the car problem that day, and in much simpler form than the entire story unfolded in reality, I found myself driving Sister Martin's car -- unfamiliar to me -- in taking Spanish women home after participating in self-employment selling of their crafts at a distant Farmer's Market. We ended up in very compromising areas of LA late at night, and I KNOW we had attendant angels that night, traveling with us in unsafe conditions. That will NOT happen again, but I so recognize traveling mercies -- and miracles -- in situations I least plan on finding myself.

As we prepare for the departure of Elder Chui, who stands in the middle of this group, we have enjoyed extra activities to celebrate his awesome missionary service. He is leaving for Hong Kong in a couple of days and how we will miss him!

One of those extra activities included a wonderful meal at the Lew's home. Dr. Lew is our Chinese branch mission leader, though he lives in a far-away community, and his amazing wife is part of the branch Relief Society presidency. I never knew I could feel so close to a sister as a dear friend who is so culturally different than me, but we are kindred spirits. I have developed a deep love and respect for these good people.

And of course, our traditional Menchies frozen yogurt, the go-to place for just about any occasion or celebration. There is a blackboard there that they like to write random remarks about current situations. Elder Chui thought the next step on his life's agenda was quite a hoot.

He is a talented, smart, respected young man who is yet another pioneer among his people. He will be sorely missed but he will be welcomed into the fold of his Chinese ward in Hong Kong and will be needed there, no doubt!

Other traveling mercies along this mission adventure included a big Birthday Breakfast Bash for the Carmona family, our next-door neighbors. Out of 4 of them, there were 3 March birthdays in their family, so we decided to have a big party for this father and his 3 daughters. Of course, what MAKES it a party is all the energetic missionaries who come with laughter, noise, and appetites. It was a very fun breakfast before everyone dispersed for their Saturday activities. I think the Carmona's felt pleased and loved.

Another traveling mercy is the final finish of a monstrous dental adventure. After more than a month on one dental procedure, the culprit tooth is finally crowned and we are done. Until summer's dental checkup.  

One crazy night after a quick shopping errand, I came home to a houseful of sisters in our apartment. I knew they would be coming, so I hoped to find a treat at the store to bring home, and what did I find?!?!           And what a find!!! 
Sister Gong (turtle), Sister Xia (lion), Sister Mann (duck), Me (fish), Sister Martin (dog)
What a hoot after a long day when we're tired enough we'll laugh hard at anything!

My scriptural study has taken a new approach this year. I've chosen a specific topic and looked up each scripture for that topic in the topical guide. I've come to know much deeper meanings for words like "sober," "eyes," "light," and "sanctify." I've learned a lot how to apply them in practical ways to my life and world here. 

And I've come to recognize in this world of beauty, color, and light, my eyes have been opened to a multitude of traveling mercies. 

Every day.