It turns out the final month of a mission seems to be the fullest of all! There are so many "lasts" to experience, enjoy, and write into my heart, and there seems so little time to do it! As usual, there are a variety of adventures to dot the path.
Horse Races began on December 26 in Arcadia at Santa Anita Park. Though Sister Martin was still away for the holiday, the Knight's invited me to see the races with them, along with our missionary badges! What a fun day it was! We placed bets among ourselves, by determining what colors of horse blankets we liked, what horse names sounded most winning, which jockeys seemed most prominent on the roster -- scientific betting-type criteria!
|Here they come!|
|Here they are!|
|Me and the Knight's|
Though we felt a little out-of-place at times, we certainly laughed hard, and the races were magnificent! We spent most of the day there, watching a different race each half hour.
Beautiful horses, exhilarating atmosphere, questionable venue for renegade senior missionaries!!
New Year's Eve was spent at the Chinese Jasmine House with our cute Chinese friends, Thanh, Mei, and Lola. We spent a lot of time trying to understand each other, ate lots of yummy and interesting food, drank lots of daisy tea, and laughed and laughed. A LOT! I think I may have mastered chopsticks. Mostly. It was a unique and memorable New Year's Eve, 2016.
|Mei, Thanh, Me, Sister M, Lola|
Ever and always, there are unending photos to take before missionaries leave Alhambra after an unusually long stay. That's how the Chinese work flows -- fewer missionaries that stay for longer times. So it's even more difficult to tell them good-bye when it's time, because they've become like our own family. That is definitely the case with Elder Kemsley.
|Sister Martin, Thanh, Elder Kemsley, Lola, Me, Michael|
Sometimes we just need a photo of friends who we know will live in our hearts forever. This is the case with my homies, Lola (Taulbee Lua), Edi, (my cute English translator friend) and Mei (Nu Giang)...
|Random day in the foyer after Chinese Sacrament Meeting|
...and with past missionaries who come to visit and go to the temple with us!
|Me, Oscar Chui, Sister Martin|
Our activity days with Sister Bunker are drawing to a close, and she really wanted to try a new restaurant in Alhambra. I think she's already eaten at all the rest of the 6,391 establishments in town, so she was anxious to try The Road To Seoul Korean B-B-Q. A grill is built into the center of each table and you grill your food -- primarily meat -- right on your table. Your attendant keeps coming to cut each piece and turn them again and again so they cook just right. Such fun and so delicious! Sister Bunker knows the places to go!
|The Road to Seoul Restaurant|
|Built-in table grill|
And it wouldn't have been a complete evening without visiting Brother Bunker, still in the rehab center gaining strength each day before he comes home. A raccoon sits on his head to keep him warm.
|Effy, Sister Martin, Me|
Our first farewell party at ERS, Effy came back from Utah to visit. Our good and incredibly talented, smart, and inspiring friend, Dianey, decorated for each of us beautiful missionary cakes, including personalized edible missionary badges on top.
There are some sisters in Alhambra Ward that call us for get-togethers on occasion. We eat dinner, play card games, talk, and laugh. It feels so comfortable being in a real home with them. I adore these wonderful friends.
|At Home With |
Me, Linda Hacker, Sister Martin, Ellen Kovac
We had a farewell breakfast one Saturday morning before our very last transfer, and we knew we would be losing Elder Veridiano, going home to the Philippines. Family breakfasts are always occasions to celebrate. But a Last Breakfast? YES!! -- still happy, yummy, and full of inspiring, energetic young missionaries!
While Effy was visiting in LA, we attended her sister's 50th wedding anniversary. It was a truly 100% beautiful, Latin occasion. It was decorated unbelievably lavish, with every detail perfectly in place. Because the celebrated couple had taken a memorable trip to Paris, the party was themed around everything Paris, though the crowd was undeniably Hispanic. What an elaborate, splendid event!
|Me and the Eiffel Tower|
|Spanish friends in Paris!|
I love Dianey Hernandez. She is one of the most inspiring, tenacious, creative, FUN, and faithful people I know. What a privilege it is to have her for a friend.
|Me, Dianey, the darling anniversary couple, and Sister Martin|
Dianey's labor-of-love anniversary cake
And, of course, the anniversary couple, Alvaro and Adda, married 50 wonderful years and still very much in love. Ahhhhhhh...it is a beautiful sight to see.
Still packing it all in before packing it all up. A lot of packing going on these days!
To be continued...