Sister Rounds

Sister Rounds
California Arcadia

Saturday, October 29, 2016


At this point in my mission, there are many things going on WITHIN. There are interesting inner queries that still search for my full purpose here in this great mission. I have a lot of theories, including the blessing of living close enough to home to participate in important events, both physically on occasion, and vicariously ALWAYS. It has allowed me to converse with loved ones often in any ding-dong electronic form I choose, and has provided an easier way for them to come to me here. I have needed ALL of these interconnections drastically.

Another thought that keeps bouncing around WITHIN is the blessing of my cute Sister Janessa being part of my mission. There are definite reasons for our sharing this mission together, and I'm thinking some of those will yet manifest later in life.

Arcadia, CA sister missionaries prepare to share a 20th birthday!
Our shared mission has, without doubt, provided us with great and unusual opportunities to be together at key times for both of us.

Birthdays, new areas of transfers and companions, and...                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
just being together.

Someone who has come to live WITHIN my heart is my dear former companion, Mary Ann Thurgood. She continues to take good care of my needs, even from WITHIN her Utah home and busy family life. She comes to visit and we share wonderful time together. Still.
Me and Mary Ann at Legends Restaurant for Janessa's birthday
We also enjoyed a special event WITHIN the LA temple as 5 people entered the temple for the first time on their way back to live WITHIN God's presence ultimately. It was definitely an experience extraordinaire, additionally witnessing the sealing of Jason and Thelma's little family.
Wonderful group of the Valley Branch

Jason, Thelma, and little Jalen

We celebrated afterward at the Golden Hibachi, an all-you-can eat Asian buffet. YUMM!! Delicious food WITHIN tummies!

Thelma, Jalen, Jason, Mary Ann, Me
While visiting WITHIN the Arcadia Mission, Mary Ann and I visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, where we enjoyed sea life WITHIN all its varieties. We visited Bubba Gump's for delicious lunch, the lighthouse overlooking the harbor, and caught the Queen Elizabeth historical ship in our background, which reminded me of Titanic. What a fun day!
Bubba Gump's "shrimpy" lunch
Long Beach Harbor Lighthouse
Queen Elizabeth behind us
Of course, we finished off the day in a perfect way at Fosselman's Olde-fashioned Ice Cream shop! Perfect for stuffing ice cream WITHIN already-full tummies!

I love Mary Ann! She will be WITHIN my circle of eternal friends forever. How lucky am I!

WITHIN our apartment complex live amazing young men and women we call missionaries. Two of them had a birthday the same week, so we celebrated with birthday hats, streamers, and lots of birthday breakfast food.

Two birthdays:  Elder Holdaway and Elder Lutz
Donning visors, of course!
WITHIN the sacred walls of the Alhambra LDS church is a very small baptismal font, where MANY baptisms are performed each month. This was a baptism for Shan-Shan, and she was super excited, because her baptism was occurring on her birthday. She's a lovely person.

Mei, Sister Martin, Shan-Shan, Thanh, Me, Sister Huang, Sister Bailey
Infrequent rainstorms occur WITHIN SoCal, so I had to hurry and capture the wet ground before it was a phenomenon of history. I'm glad I did! It was gone before we knew it!

A very unusual day happened recently at the Center WITHIN an otherwise normal work week. When we got there in the morning, the power was out, and continued to be out for most of the morning. Finally the manager sent us home, since there was no power for lights or computers, our basic needs at ERC. We decided to fit something of real value WITHIN this bonus day off, so we went to the California Science Center to see the space shuttle Endeavor, and a very fun exhibit featuring the science behind the Pixar characters. 
Truly amazing space shuttle Endeavor
WITHIN the Pixar exhibit were all of our favorite, furry-and-otherwise computerized characters:


Sully, Mike Wazowski, and us at Monsters University;

our cute friends from WITHIN the movie, "UP";

Buzz Lightyear, fully clothed in confidence.
It was very interesting learning about the science and math behind the creation of these wonderful characters and many more. As society, we all get to enjoy the benefits of genius minds, creating beloved characters from WITHIN their own hearts and minds.

We looked forward for a long time to attend "Swing & Sway," BYU's ballroom dance team performance. We were taking our Vietnamese friends Thanh and Mei, who had never experienced such an extravaganza before. What a time we had! Encased WITHIN the evening was dinner first at Jasmine House. Another cultural experience. The dance performance was exquisite and it was more than fun to see the excited childlike responses of Thanh and Mei. 

Dinner at Jasmine House with Thanh, Mei, Sister M and Me

Roast duck, something NOT seen WITHIN the confines of Nibley, UT!!

These. and others, are great times to experience WITHIN a mission, cherished times that have found a place WITHIN my missionary heart.

Monday, October 17, 2016


I'm discovering challenges to personal creativity in mission living. Space is minimal and the people and things I'm used to being surrounded with in my life have altered dramatically, compelling me to seek creative alternatives.
  • My personal living space is, for the most part, enshrined in my bedroom sanctuary. Two years of living has to fit into this small area that is essentially creatively custom-decorated to meet my own needs and tastes. It's my favorite place to be.

  • I am eating more creative things than I ever thought possible in America! Kind people are continually sending me home with cultural favorites that have a truly unique look, smell, and flavor to them. Creative eating is taking place in this missionary tummy!
  • Since Sunday Night Treats is a thing of the past, creative substitutions to connect with the young missionary force compels us to do things differently. We have Saturday morning breakfasts on occasion, since they all still live in our same complex. Birthdays give us a great excuse to have breakfast and share in good time. They also provide an outlet for missionary creativity with the party hats! 

Creative Creature by Elder Siggard
  • Missionary dinners take on the creative look occasionally of the senior set.  Young, vibrant missionaries are NOT part of this particular gathering.


  • To achieve quiet, dark nights in LA there are 2 creative essentials: 

  1. a set of hot-pink earplugs to drown out the hovering choppers and emergency happenings all night long;
  2. and a darkening drape clipped to my blinds each night to block the security lights across the complex that shine directly into my window. And I actually have very nearly achieved quiet and dark.

  • Thanh is receiving lessons in her native language of Vietnamese piece by piece.  Since no missionaries in our mission speak Vietnamese, she is taught the gospel creatively, lesson by Vietnamese iPad lesson, through a small screen where she has missionaries in a distant mission teaching her. She asks LOTS of questions.

  • Wardrobe combinations are becoming more creative all the time, as I'm finding my tired, worn-out clothes to be less attractive with each passing missionary day. But then, I see daily those people who live in the same worn-out clothing day after day because they have nothing else, and it makes the boring clothes in my closet seem more than sufficient. Striving to achieve different looks from the same clothing makes the creativity in unique combinations these days live on!
  • Creative, fun, supportive weekly letters from Susan gives each week a lift. I love hearing about tidbits from her life and the home front in her cute, creative ways.
  • A creative birthday gathering is achieved as missionaries convene for dinner at a nearby restaurant to celebrate the end of teen years and jump into the twenties. While other youth celebrate in far different ways for this age, Janessa celebrated her birthday at Legends with balloons, cake, and a delicious hamburger. And the creativity of companionships! Sister Martin was ill and unable to attend, so my extremely fun and creative companion for the evening was... dear Mary Ann Thurgood.

Sister Rounds and Sister Ballard, as she moves out of her teens and into her twenties
  • Creative lawn ornaments adorn President Villanueva's front lawn in Arcadia. They are real-live peacocks, and there are MANY, escaped from the nearby Arboretum. They roost on the fence, roof, and strut around on the front lawn, regardless of who is gawking at them. 


  • Bringing in autumn without autumn really happening takes special creativity. My children achieved it so smoothly as they sent me a box where autumn absolutely floated out. Of extra-special creativity was the BOO CREW t-shirt, listing each grandchild spook's name on the front. It will be worn proudly and creatively (for normal missionary attire) on Halloween and at the ward trunk-or-treat.
  • A temple excursion was extraordinary as we attended with the Chinese Valley Branch for a session and family sealing. What a gathering! Very memorable, and such a creative type of gathering for my normally conservative life.

  • Since we don't have the time to go to breakfast after a morning missionary temple excursion, we do a "trunky breakfast," providing various menu items to be eaten out of the trunk in the temple parking lot.

Sister Bailey, Me, Sister Martin, Sister Huang

    Arcadia Senior Sisters Martin, Krammer, Rounds
  • At our recent Stake RS gathering for General RS Conference session, there were various service projects to participate in all afternoon. We then had a quick bowl of soup and bread and finished off the evening in the chapel to listen to the session. It was a lot of creative fun and MAAAAAAANY projects for MANY organizations were finished with so much manpower to help!

  • There are so many important birthdays of special people in my life. For 2016, something creative needed devising to celebrate these special days that feels personal for dear ones both near and far away.  So for each birthday, we share a personal birthday reading, starring my favorite author, Dr. Suess, and the Birthday Bird. It has been so fun and I've looked forward to each birthday this year as I talk to, and read to, each birthday person.
Happy Birthday, Dear Melaney!

  • Scripture reading for 2016 has taken a less conventional route, as I choose intriguing words to look up in the topical guide. I love reading every scripture listed for various chosen words, and I've discovered that rather than reading the scriptures by context, many scriptures relate to me personally on a different level.
  • With just months left on my mission, it seems it may be almost too late for a missionary haircut! While I went to a hairdresser to get a trim, I came out with a bona-fide CUT! Nothing like the photo I took with me, but I will endeavor to do creative things with a short haircut. Until it grows again, then...

  • I  am discovering creative sacred places. Currently, when I'm seeking a quiet place for the pleadings of my heart, I've found refuge in the dark, quiet corner of the Bishop's Storehouse warehouse. It has become a sacred place to me.

It seems out of necessity, one of the things I'm learning from a mission is the discovery of new ways to be creative. Constantly.