Over the next few weeks, Marlou and I will be sorting and packing stuff; and that goes for the emotions and memories as well.
When I sort through the wonderful activities and events in my mind, I’ll bring with me many remembrances—outreach lunches, Filipino heritage and Christmas feasts, recycling Saturdays, confirmation and membership classes, youth trips to Big Bear to play in the snow, young adults times, dinner dances, and volleyball games. I’ll remember the many celebrations—the combined Ash Wednesday services, Good Friday services with Wilmington UMC, combined choir concerts, the Madrigal Singers concerts, the children’s Christmas pageants, and of course the great celebration of the completion of the sanctuary renovation project. Speaking of the renovation project, the successful Hallelujah Cookbook project, which raised over $20,000 will be a memorable accomplishment. I’ll remember the fun activities like the Memorial Day retreat at Arroyo Grande, the beach outings and bike rides, musicals and recitals in our fellowship hall, and helping out with the Elementary Camps. I’ll smile when I think about the Alternative Christmas Fair, the bake sales, barbecues, cake walks, chili cook offs, ice cream socials, and potlucks. I’ll miss those monthly visits to women’s circles, the book club, the home Bible studies, the prayer quilts ladies and the prayer quilts during the worship services, the Lenten prayer vigils, and singing in the choir. During the advent season, I will think of our Christmas caroling, playing the guitar, carrying communion to our homebound folks, and singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” I’ll also bring with me fond thoughts of being in a church play, dressing up as different characters during Vacation Bible School, and experiencing the variety of all three worship services on Sunday mornings.
With regards to families and individuals, there are many special times to remember: birthday parties, house blessings, wedding anniversary gatherings, and treats at restaurants. I’ll recall prayer vigils over families’ loved ones as they passed on to eternal life, and the memorial and graveside services. I’ll think of visits in hospitals, care facilities, and homes. I’ll cherish all the sharing of new births, and the baptisms and weddings that I performed. Socially, I also had the privilege of going to your family picnics, playing. Scrabble, watching live sporting events, and our unnamed trips to eat at buffets. I greatly appreciated your treats to Disneyland, to your weekend cabins, and timeshares.
Thank you for the Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and the often spontaneous generous gifts of money and love packages. Marlou and I appreciated so much the fruit from your trees, the baked goods from your oven, and the baon (to go packages) from your hearty feasts.
During the past eight years there is so much joy and laughter, so much friendly ribbing and teasing, so much victory over struggles. As I mentioned in the previous letter, the wedding will be forever painted in my soul and Marlou’s. As Bob Hope used to say, “Thanks for the memories…” You’ve been caring, kind, gracious, merciful, supportive, and loving. Or as Aibileen Clark says in the movie “The Help,” ‘You is kind, you is smart, you is special.” To quote John Wesley, when I think of Torrance First UMC, “my heart will be strangely warmed.” Speaking for Marlou, we love you and wish you the best for a bright ministry and fruitful future for decades to come. I’m grateful that the Lord gave us eight years together as you made me a better pastor. Any pastor and family will be blessed to serve you!
I was a stronger in this land, a babe in its culture and ways.
You took me in your loving, welcoming arms. You were my mother, father, sister, brother, auntie, uncles — teaching me, guiding me, and showering me with gifts, worm hugs and kisses as I take tiny steps and breathe in my new life in America. You gave me the best wedding any girl could have. I thank you and I thank the Lord for blessing my life with you. I leave you for now but you all will remain in my heart and I will remember you with my loving thoughts and prayers.