Thursday, May 10, 2007

vacation: days 3-5 - san fran & fremont

day 3 - san fran (saturday april 28 2007)

Saturday morning began bright and early - we headed up from San Jose to Fremont to catch the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from Fremont at 8:30ish. We grabbed some bagels along the way, clambered on the train, and headed into the city. We decided to hit up the shops in Chinatown first. We were scheduled to meet with some of my online friends from a forum at 11:00, so we meandered around for the time leading up to it. My friends were a bit late (about an hour because of construction and traffic issues), but showed up and we went to dim sum at a Chinese place with them. I think Salad will have to meta-post on this in the comments for a more in-depth or American look at Chinatown, because I grew up visiting my mom's family in the Chinatown in Brooklyn (I'm half Chinese). It was fun and reminiscent of other times, but mostly unremarkable to me. A bit touristy (read: very touristy). After dim sum we went intoa few more shops, then ran off to catch a bus. In the ensuing hulabaloo, my online friends got ditched, leaving me in a bit of a sour mood, and we headed off to Ghirardelli Square. We got the free chocolate, then walked down to Fisherman's Wharf, walked along the water area to Pier 39 where we saw a dock full of sea lions (which I brilliantly called mountain lions while bragging to Bob about being in the middle of San Fran), and took a rail thing over to Union Square. We hit up another Rasputin (Hidden was bent on getting that last DVD of an anime he liked), then caught the BART back to Fremont and the car. Dinner was Panera (mmm Panera), we went shoe shopping for Vanessa, and headed down to the third (and final) Rasputin (where Hidden still failed to find the last DVD). Then off to bed again.

day 4 - fremont (sunday april 29 2007)

Sunday was amazing for me. Probably a little bit less so for Salad, but it might have been my favorite day of the vacation. Salad and I left early to get to church in Fremont. We made it in record time (I didn't know how much Sunday morning traffic to account for) and ended up at the chapel about 50 minutes early for the 9:00 sacrament meeting. We roamed the halls and I showed the wonders of huge California chapels to Salad (2 chapels, 1.5 gyms, 2 kitchens, 2 relief society rooms, an elevator to the 2nd floor with about 40 classrooms, 2 libraries, etc.). People started showing up, and I got some really classic double-takes. Now, I spent 15 months total in this ward. I was part of the ward. I loved the people there, and had gotten to know many of them on a fairly personal level. That said, I didn't expect too many people to remember me very vividly. It had been over a year, after all. Much to my surprise, pretty much everyone remembered me, and the outpouring of love was huge. I don't want to come across as prideful or conceited, but I was a dang good missionary in that ward, and the members knew it. Anyway, everyone would ask Salad if she sang before they'd ask anything else. I sang in Sacrament meeting in that ward probably no less than 13 times. The bishop even asked if I would be singing anything in the meetings, but we hadn't planned ahead for it, so I said no. As luck would have it (of course), the girl who was supposed to do the musical number ran in semi-frantic, saying that she couldn't play the song because she hadn't finished learning it. The first counselor turned to me (5 minutes before the start of church, mind you) and asked if I would be willing to sing. Who am I to turn down a coincidence in church? So I sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" almost straight from the hymnbook, and it was awesome.

The best part of sacrament meeting, though, was the involvement of some key individuals. One of my converts, who I baptized when he was 11, was preparing the sacrament. Another of my converts was passing the sacrament. One of the kids that I did new member discussions for and kept active was passing the sacament as well. And another kid that I did new member discussions for and that we kept very involved got his mission call that week. A bunch of my converts were there and strong, and most of my favorite members were there as well. One of my favorite converts made the trip up to Fremont specifically to see me, despite having moved to another area. It was amazing, the Spirit was so strong, and I was nearly moved to tears many times.

The rest of the meetings were fairly nondescript. We went to the Chinese Sunday school and I translated everything for Salad. Priesthood was surprisingly good (I forgot what good Priesthood meetings were like), even if I had to conduct the music for opening exercises (they have a sense of humor in Fremont). After church, the Chinese group put together a potluck dinner at one of the member's houses, so we headed over there and got to eat a sampling of much of the best Chinese food you can get. I got to sit down and talk to a lot of the people I missed so much, and even got to horse around with all the little kids that were off limits as a missionary.

After the potluck we hung out with some of the people and eventually took a nap on the couch. When dinnertime rolled around we went down to Cupertino, the other area I served in, to eat with the former branch mission leader. Apparently the little branch in which I started my mission, which had averaged about 30-35 members at sacrament meeting when I got there and had 45-50 when I left was averaging over 70 people a week, and they were considering moving it to another building and breaking its dependence on the English ward. Going back to my old stomping grounds was a huge booster for me - to see that the work had continued forward and that the people that I had worked so hard with were still strong was amazing to me.

day 5 - fremont revisited (monday april 30 2007)

Monday was probably really boring for Salad. For the late morning/early afternoon, we perused Asian stores, bought and ate Chinese pastries and a boba drink, had In-N-Out again, and kept ourselves busy. Around 2:00 we headed off to my favorite member's house for the rest of the day. I had done a lot of music with her and had baptized her three kids. We did a bunch of music (she played, I sang), I showed her a bunch of the recordings I'd done over the past 2 years, and she made my absolute favorite dinner, chinese beef noodles. It was just as good as I remembered. She also had some authentic Taiwanese pastries (brought from Taiwan that weekend by her husband) and some other Asian desserts and such. When we left that night, she sent us off with a box full of treats. From there we headed into San Jose to pick Hidden up from dinner, and we drove back to Utah. It was a very long drive back, but we got back in one piece and without incident.

It was a tiring trip, but so good for me. I loved it, and had a great time, and hope to be able to do something like it again next year. That's about it.


1 comment:

salad said...

yay for avoiding homework by doing a meta-post!

San Fran was fun, although I wore a jacket all day to keep from compounding my sunburn and ended up being sweltering hot all day, but it was worth it to avoid the burn.

Chinatown was very touristy and not super thrilling, but I had been there before so I think I got my tourist desires out at that point. I would comment on the "hulabaloo" situation, but I don't know what else to say other than I felt really bad but didn't know what to do. All the walking around did end up getting to me. My back was completely shot and I had some wicked blisters on my toes despite the fact that I was wearing good shoes. For some reason I was in a bit of a mood on the way back, but Panera helped to dispel that.

Sunday was extremely interesting for me. You don't have to tell me twice that Drex is an amazing guy (I kinda like him a little, just a smidge), but the members couldn't stop gushing about him. It was neat to see how much they love him and the impact that he had on them. It was entertaining that they kept asking me if I could sing (which I can, but I don't like to do in public). The Chinese sunday school was cool; it made me want to learn Chinese even more. I went to Relief Society with one of Drex's converts and we talked a bit about what a great guy Drex is. There was a fair amount of false doctrine preached in RS and it was all I could do to keep quite and just let well enough alone. The potluck after church was great. So much good food and so many good people. They all accepted me as part of their "family" and made an effort to make me feel comfortable.

Monday wasn't boring so much as I just hadn't had time to recover from winter semester and I was completely wiped out. Shopping for food and pastries in the morning was fun, but I totally passed out on the couch for most of the afternoon. I felt kind of rude, but I couldn't help it, I was so exhausted. Dinner that night was amazing. I love Chinese food and Chinese people (makes sense right?). I'm excited to see these people again and to build great relationships with them.

Traveling home was long, boring, and completely exhausting.