Time to say good-bye to my home of almost 2 years. ERS was a place of learning, growth, consecration, laughter, tears, and numerous heartfelt prayers. It was a beautiful oasis in the midst of chaos, but it became sacred to my heart.
Another final event was dinner with Janessa and her fill-in companion, since hers was sick. We ate at Marie Calendar's in Arcadia, very close to my own hometown of Alhambra. It's been a joy to serve with Janessa. Her presence in the mission has kept me grounded and remembering that this is all really real. She sweetly gave me flowers, a heartfelt card, and a matching ring with hers that signifies our matching mission in Arcadia, California from 2015 - 2017.
And then the final homeward bound events began, with the Wallis Wonders coming on the weekend, just in time for Ashley's baptism on Sunday after church.
|Wallis Family and Nana in Bay State apartment courtyard by the unforgettable swimming pool, always full.|
Our special baptismal candidate, readying for baptism in the small and highly used Alhambra Ward font, was all smiles all day. Ashley was nothing short of a celebrity. The entire day was extraordinarily sweet and surreal, having my family in this unusual setting, my mission home.
|Proud parents of Ashley, Brent and Stephanie|
Proud me of them all!
We enjoyed a wonderful and well-prepared baptism, and took many photos every chance we got. This was a highlight of my entire mission.
There are two men, spiritual giants in my mind and heart, whom I will never forget, for all they did to add to and bless my life during my mission. They also served as witnesses for Ashley's baptism. So fitting! Such SUPERMEN!
|President Lee (Valley Branch), Me, Bishop McNairy (Alhambra Ward)|
President and Sister Lee are two of my favorite heroes. I have learned lifelong lessons from them in Christlike attributes of charity and diligence.
|Ashley with President and Sister Lee|
Ashley's cheeks grew tired of smiling so much during her special day. All wanted a photo with her. She was the little lady of the day. And rightfully so -- she was the most pure and perfect among us! She went home with photos of many of my California loved ones, both English and Chinese. The dinner was spectacular. Though it was intended to be a small event, it turned out very large, and great amounts of food were contributed, from vast and obscure sources. So wonderful! So typical of my friends here.
The children presented a small program for my beloved friend, Sister Bunker, who enjoyed their songs and poems more than ever! She sat in her own apartment complex in the infamous living room chair, taking in the gifts and talents of my beloved family.
I left my sweet little apartment, never to return, since it was dismantled upon my leaving. I was relieved not to participate in that part.
FIRST STOP: Los Angeles Temple grounds
NEXT STOP: Disneyland! A little bit rainy, but it didn't stop us from having a great time all day, and the crowds were minimal. The rain stopped during the day, so it was a wonderful visit!
|Getting ready to board a boat for Small World|
|One happy teacup camper!|
|Happy girls on Dumbo!|
|Get ready to fly across the sky!|
|We added Tinkerbell to the Family Photo|
NEXT STOP AND STAY: Newport Beach and the Bunker's beach house. What fun and memories!
Love these awesome grandchildren!
Sammie sits inside my heart and we made burritos out of all of them. It kept them warm in the sand and was an amazing babysitting device!
|Max and Mayci building an important sand castle|
|My Wallis Wonders in the Wonderful Waves|
A stay on the beach in California wouldn't be complete without dinner at a restaurant with fresh seafood fare.
|Bird Man Luke!|
An excursion to Balboa Island produced a long, vigorous walk around the island, shopping for just the right take-home item, and Balboa Bars or frozen bananas among all the begging birds.
|OK, that's a lot of happy people in one family!!|
STILL HOMEWARD BOUND!!!
What is a California trip without a Las Vegas stop? Fortunately, the M&M Factory keeps a family safe and sane in that party town!
Thank you, Wallis Wonders, for coming to retrieve me from an incredible 2 years of service and consecration. All was an inexpressible growing experience that has enriched my life beyond words. As we bound homeward, I will never forget the past 2 years, or the past week with my wondrous family.