Sister Rounds

Sister Rounds
California Arcadia

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pressing Forward

One of the constancies in life seems to be "change," no matter what stage, phase, age, or place you're in. So, true to that constancy, we said "good-bye" to some special people.

Sister Xia is one of those people. She was transferred to English work, a great blessing for her. She will have the direct opportunity to learn English very fluently before she goes home next transfer. She was sent to a capable and fun English companion, Sister Maughan.

How we miss her!

As senior missionaries, fortunately we have the latitude to visit her on occasion, such as her upcoming birthday, when we will go to her new area and take Sister Xia and Sister Maughan for birthday dinner.

We also bid "good-bye" to a wonderful young couple who were baptized while they were in the US awaiting the birth of their second child. They came to English class and became interested in the church. They are such good-hearted people and they will be a strength to the church in China. They blessed their brand-new baby girl their last week here before going home to China.

The GOOD-BYE Group

Good-byes were also bid to Elder Chen, also transferred to another Chinese area. He was always such fun to play "Pit" with. He laughed so hard in that game, as we continually exchanged the same commodities time after time.

So, of course, Sunday Night Treats included wondrous family photos. Comic Relief, I suppose, to an otherwise dramatic event.

President and Sister Lee, Branch President for Valley Branch, invited all the Chinese branch leaders and us to a special dinner at a very fine restaurant. It was beautiful. The round tables were massive with an equally large turntable in the center. Items were placed on it and passed around for each person to take the desired portion of a desired dish. It's a traditional Chinese way of passing food, and certainly efficient.

Sister Martin and I took an opportunity to visit Janessa and her companion, Sister Hernandez, in her new Spanish area. She seems happy and engaged in learning Spanish. I'm guessing she is quite a rapid learner, though she wouldn't agree. We're all harder on ourselves. Elders who have worked with her say she is doing marvelously.
Taken from surveillance angle, AKA high selfie stick!
Janessa, Sister Hernandez, Me, Sister Martin
As always, we had a very fun time. It was so great to see each other again, as we both press forward through our Arcadia, CA missions.

We enjoyed our second annual Valley Branch summer picnic. Has it really been a year since our last one? It's incredible to think about how much has transpired in that year between picnics. So many lessons learned, so many friends made, both English and Chinese, so many experiences that are now tied tightly into my heart.

Thelma, Jason, and Jalen Yu
Wonderful friends
Hilarious watermelon-eating contest
So deliciously yummy and messy!

"Left-overs" after most of the group had gone home
 It seems that mostly, we're all pressing forward, navigating this amazing life with all its twists, turns, and changes.

And marvelous adventures.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Yet another quick trip home for Jaimie's college graduation. In the process, I had the cherished pleasure of staying with the Wallis Wonders at their crazy Fun House. I became a little more acquainted with cute little Chloe, who had no idea who I was when I walked in the door, but we became fast friends. She is a special, happy baby girl, and I enjoyed her right along with the rest of the Wallis gang.
CRAZIES!! Mayci, Luke, Sammie, Blake, and Nana

I became "Nana and Nanny" for a few quick days.
Max, Ashley, Mayci, Sammie, Luke, Me

Blake, Luke, Sammie, Chloe, Max,
Ashley, Mayci

We enjoyed Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast, movies at night, talks with Sammie, seeing everyone's latest projects, and gathering Mother's Day lilacs to spread around the house to surprise Steph when they came home from a mini anniversary adventure. The girls made a creative banner, the boys gathered and placed vases of flowers.

Saturday was spent in graduation activities all day. It was so great seeing everyone, and I was a completely proud mother of a new 2016 university graduate.

Jaimie and Trever Waite
Two 2016 University graduates, Jaimie and Devenie
Dinner with adults was spent at El Sol, and a cute, sweet visitor (cupcake owl, provided by Bryce and Rachael) capped off our celebration. What a wise friend to join this special event!
The Waite's and Natoli's, new graduates
The long and short of it...

And in the very same visit, we all enjoyed Mother's Day together also. Traditional Sunday dinner was spent with the gang. Just like in Sundays past...

Sierra with Blaze, Alex, and Chloe

Our little yearlings. How they have grown in the time I've been gone!

A very customary Sunday evening sight, including many adored family, gobs of food, and plenty of paperware! Mother's Day fare included grilled burgers and hot dogs by dads/husbands/sons. Delicious!

And one of the best parts was they all cleaned up afterward also!

Not only did I get to try out the new selfie stick after I broke the one I had (I was having too much fun!) but I was also graced with a wonderful Sunday Night Treat bucket, complete with peanut M&M's and meanings of colors by each grandchild. Very special, indeed! Not to mention how much I love peanut M&M's! (Thanks, Arlyn!)

Ashley stayed right with me the entire evening. It was fun to have her so close. She and I look forward to Nana Days yet to come.

The next fun-filled, important event occurred as I traveled to AJ's house. I got to spend a few days with my wonderful family there, and meet brand new Alexis, just 10 days old. She's sweet, beautiful, and so new.
Me, Lexie, and Sadie

And then it was time to go back to my Alhambra home-again, home-again, jiggity-jig, where my mission still awaited. Work to be done, people to meet, lessons to be learned. I'm still in the process of "becoming." Each home has important effects on my life. How grateful I am for both.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Deja Vu!

Blast from the past and powering through the present.  I return to some of the same activities that I've participated in over the past 14  months. There are ongoing temple excursions. The group looks a little different each time, depending on who is serving in our area at the time. It's ALWAYS rewarding, however. We never get tired of taking missionaries to the temple on their meager bi-annual quota of twice a year, even if it means getting up at 3:30 am to do it.

Elder Garcia, Elder Chen, Elder Lutz, Elder Pao, Elder Woodcock, Elder Kemsley, Sister Mann, Sister Xia
Elder Kemsley, Elder Chen, Elder Lutz,
Elder Pao

"The Errand of Angels"

And every once in a special while, just as in times past, our little sisters pop in unexpectedly with a plate of fruit or bowl of some Chinese something, and we decide on a whim to whip up quick dinner to share all together. We can do that when they live just doors away.

We LOVE spending time together. Yet they never forget why they are here, and often, they will opt out of other activities at our home because they have missionary work they are engaged in.


 Always in the mood for shakes or late-night smoothies!

Part of the past's blast is the Gladys Knight concert/missionary devotional we were able to attend. Her style of music brings back many memories from decades past, though she performed strictly inspirational music. It was truly a cultural experience, characteristic of black gospel music, including clapping, rhythm, and the sense of evangelical. It was a wonderful missionary opportunity, since it was performed at a local Mormon church, inside the chapel, and both Gladys and her husband shared sweet, fervent testimonies of the gospel. We were supposed to invite non-member or less-active friends. We invited our cute little friend, Mayci  Rosa with us and had such fun.

We were joined by Deja Vu Sister Huang, who came to visit and stay with us for a couple of nights. She was a past missionary in this area, and it was awesome seeing her again.

After the concert, we found Marie Calendar's restaurant. Rosa ordered EXACTLY everything the same as me, because she was basically unfamiliar with this kind of American food. It was too cute!

We enjoyed some fun time with Sister Huang, while SHE enjoyed a great deal of Deja Vu coming back to her mission before leaving for Taiwan with her family. It brought back great memories and we enjoyed some sweet talks.

Deja Vu with beautiful jakaranda trees in full bloom this time of year! I totally missed them last year, because I was too green to notice, I guess. But they are sooooooo lovely! They are a tall, full, stately tree that turns a beautiful shade of purple while it's in bloom. They rise above other trees, so they can be seen looming in all their beauty.

Almansor Park and its wildlife are great experiences to revisit again and again. Depending on the time of day we go, we either see many squirrels, or else many turtles, but they appear at opposite times of the day, so it was fun one day when we happened to see BOTH in the same visit!

Hello, Mister!
Random visit to the local Old Mill. Super cool!
We also had Sister Chan come back to visit in the same weekend as Sister Huang, so that really felt like Deja Vu with past missionaries, blending with our present contingency. They had a great time face-timing with Elder Chui, who had just returned to Hong Kong within 2 weeks.

This is what a returning missionary gathering looks like. There are not very many, so it's a LARGE event for both English and Chinese wards, who both know Elder Lin, just returning from a mission to New York. The food was phenomenal and plentiful!!

The popular animal hats are revisited again and again also. These happen to be sported by Elder Chen and Blake  Elder Lutz. They are so funny when they pull me into the action.

Ducky Elder Lutz!
Ducky Elder Chen!
And then there are continual Deja Vu activities at the Employment Center also. Effy is continually taking care of everyone's birthdays and every other excuse we can find to party...and eat! This happened to be Elder Werner's birthday celebration, our local service missionary/resume specialist, who volunteers a day a week to help people with resumes. He's great!

Joel (Director), Effy (Co-Director), Sister Mascaro, Elder Mascaro, Elder Werner, Sister Martin

In a strange way, a visit to the flower and fabric districts in central LA is Deja Vu. Though I had never been to quite that area, it was almost square in the middle of Skid Row. And THAT is Deja Vu in a haunting sort of way. These are wonderfully priced shopping areas, but a little sketchy to wander through because of the area. It was a unique Deja Vu experience.
Trying not to be too disrespectful, I wanted to try and capture the unbelievable look that is so prevalent in this area of LA. Tents and tarps everywhere. Peoples' homes.

More special outings with my good friends the Bunker's. We went out to dinner and attended a play-in-the-round in Glendale. It was a mystery, "Catch Me If You Can."  The beautiful theatre belongs to the same family that runs the Hale Family Theatre in Salt Lake City. It felt Deja Vu because I had previously attended "The King and I" here with Sister Thurgood and our friend, Jezabel. It felt great to be back. (The Bunker's LOVED the concept of taking a photo with a selfie stick.)

We were part of The Helping Hands service project for the local food pantry again this year. Same parking lot at the same church in South Pasadena. We were doing the same sorting through goods and packing them in boxes, and it all felt very familiar from last year, but it also felt a little different. Each Deja Vu experience has its own characteristics, familiar and new. 

Me, Sister Krammer (mission office), Sister Martin
Missionary shoes in the front hall. The missionaries are very respectful to take them off when they come in. The scene is the same, but the shoes change from group to group. It's still a cute sight both outwardly and in my heart.

Deja Vu from days in my beloved valley home, when we baked and delivered bread to others seeming to need bread that day. Here is my cute babysitting neighbor, Violet Carmona, and she had her hands full this day. I had just baked bread, and it seemed she might like some to share with the multitude of kids she was watching that day. Yep -- gone in no time!!

Ongoing are birthday parties and Sunday night treats. It's part of the happiness and satisfaction of mission life, these Deja Vu events. Even though the participants change, the feeling of love and unity stays consistent from event to event, group to group.

A very special Deja Vu afternoon transpired when the Allen's from Hyde Park, who are serving a mission in Los Angeles, came to the Center and we went to lunch together. We talked about missions, home, and Arlyn. Elder Allen knew him from the insurance industry and it was truly heartwarming to hear his remembrances of him. I feel like I have known these good people forever, though I never knew them until we ran into one another in Los Angeles, both serving missions. I hadn't spent any real time with them since the beginning green stages of my mission. So it was a sweet return to our foundling period of time, but with an added measure of seasoning that we've all added to our lives over the past year of these missions.
My dear friend, Sister Allen and me at Marisco's Mexican Seafood Restaurant

I will truly miss them when they return home without me in July.
Come to think of it, chances are, we'll fondly recall some Deja Vu LA in times ahead together.