There has been so much good stuff that has happened the past couple of days here in LA and so little time to write about it! So this post is going to be jam packed with a lot of events from the past three days but totally worth the read!
Friday morning we were scheduled to help out the kitchen with some of the members of the Dream Center Discipleship Program. I may have mentioned this previously but the discipleship program is for individuals who are either struggling with addiction or who just need a fresh start. We ended up helping out a guy (We will call him Daniel) who was responsible for washing dishes every morning. It was just us three cleaning up after breakfast and we got the opportunity to hear about his awesome story.
The thing about the discipleship program is that they actually aren’t supposed to be speaking with volunteers who come to the Dream Center as a part of their regulations. But during the week we actually got to speak with 4 guys in our serving who drastically impacted my life and I’m sure Michaels as well. Daniel was one of these guys.
A lot of them that come through are dealing with addictions to drugs or alcohol and need a place like the Dream Center to break the chains of addiction over their life. Daniel wasn’t one of these gentleman. Daniel was from another country and just came to the United States as an escape from his family. His story was encouraging to me because he actually faced a lot of the same insecurities that I have often faced in my life in regards to my family and my closest friends. Even some insecurities that began rising up on this trip for me were met face to face with a man who legitimately left his country to find the answers. What’s cool is that in the process He found a closer and more intimate relationship with Jesus that helps him claim victory over the lies he had been believing about himself
We washed dishes with Daniel, sang worship songs and just shared stories to encourage one another. I was just talking with Michael about how much these discipleship guys impacted my trip. I love seeing what that program does for these men and women and how it provides hope for them in places where there is none.
That afternoon we headed out to another food truck where we set up shop at a local park to provide food for those who came. This was the second food truck in as many days but it was very different. One thing that I noticed about this particular food truck was that everyone who received food seemed to be a little more grateful than the previous day. There were so many scuffles the day before about who would get the leftover food but that wasn’t the case at this park.
One really cool thing about this site was the community that was built not only with the recipients of the food but the ones who were distributing it. This food truck seemed to have a few more students than the previous truck we did and they all seemed to be really close with one another as well as the people they were serving.
The leader of this food truck was also a member of the discipleship program at the Dream Center and she did a phenomenal job at empowering these students to step up and take on different roles to make sure the truck went as smooth as possible. At the end we gathered and debriefed about how it had gone that day and the students also shared about the time they had serving on the food truck for the semester since it was many of their last day serving before graduation. They all loved the leader of the truck and it was just a really cool moment to be able to share with that team.
While we were serving on the food truck we got some pretty cool news:) Michael and I were planning on our friend Cody coming in on Saturday night to spend some time with us for a couple of days before he heads up the coast for a week or so. But Friday morning we received a text message from our mentors, leaders and best friends Tony and Haley with a picture of them on an airplane headed towards LA! They decided to take a surprise vacation for their 13th anniversary to see us and some of our other friends in the LA area.
Friday Night Michael and I went out to skid row to do an optional outreach with many of the other short term volunteers like us and also some regulars on the Friday night outreach.
When we arrived a group of about 35-40 of us split up into 4 larger groups and were able to cover 4 blocks of skid row. Walking out there and handing out food and water was certainly different at night than in the day. Especially since we hit a slightly rougher portion of skid row than the day before.
Just to elaborate a little on some of the individuals I saw that night, One of the first individuals I asked to provide water with was sitting on a curb. I didn’t know it until I reached down but he was injecting heroin right there in front of us. I also had the opportunity to pray for a woman who said her soul had been dirty for a long time. She said she believed in God but her soul just needed to be clean. I asked her for her name and she couldn’t remember what it was. She just told me to call her Amanda. Of course I prayed with her and reminded her that God knew her name and that He knew everything about her identity that she had forgotten. It just really hit me that there are people out there who haven’t said there name in so long to someone that they legitimately don’t remember what it is.
We did run into some pretty funny people out there that night. One woman had a industrial sized stove set up outside of here tent and she was cooking tacos for anybody that wanted them and cu up with us the whole time we were out there. A couple of guys on the other side of the street were cooking a roast on a small handmade grill. We were able to stand a while, shoot the breeze and pray with these gentlemen. Some of these individuals did give me a lot of hope that they they didn’t find their identity in their homelessness. It also reminded me that not everyone who was out there was living in the dark. Granted there are a lot of them who are. But many believe in the Lord and don’t walk around totally defeated. I loved seeing some of that out there.
Saturday morning we went over to an optional adopt-a-block site with one of our friends Tim that we had worked pretty closely with during the week. This was a smaller food truck but it was fun. Abel, the leader of this adopt-a-block was such a great facilitator of excitement and joy. I’m not sure how they got there but they even did a raffle to give away some items like kitchen knives, Pokémon cards for the children and a deep fryer. So cool to see and be a part of.
This was the last actual outreach that we did with the Dream Center but the weekend had actually just begun.
Tony and Haley had already made it into town on Friday night and Haley was checking out a ladies event that our friends Joanna and Kate were hosting at the Dream Center when Tony, Michael and I ran into another discipleship guy from the DC. This is honestly the best part of my week:)
We will call him Leon since it’s probably not a good idea to say his real name. But we walked down to the seven eleven for some quick snacks and on our way back into the parking lot we noticed a tall man sitting on the back of his car with his wife and children. He looked like someone we knew so we walked over to him and began to talk to him.
As we began to talk about our connections to the dream center and what we were doing there he began to share his and his family’s story with us. I honestly cant say that my heart has ever been filled with so much compassion for someone the way that it was on this particular afternoon, but I pray that the Lord would fill me with as much compassion for everyone that I meet. He opened up about some really horrible things that had occurred in his life. We must have talked for an hour and by the time we were done Haley had joined in on the conversation as well.
We prayed for him and his family and it was such an intimate moment. Leon and I hadn’t experienced the same things but I knew from what he was talking about the we were currently fighting some of the same battles. I think that’s why my heart just went out to him and his family in such a heavy manner. The love and compassion in this mans heart was amazing. I saw him from afar the next morning at church worshiping with his discipleship friends and snagged a picture. I dont know if ill ever think about that man and his story and not celebrate the victory that will and has already happened in his life. He gave me a simple but ever grateful wave as he saw me on the top balcony from the floor. I can honestly say I love that man and his family. It was the best part of my week…and remember I met a movie star;)
We went to Angelus Temple Sunday morning and it was really good. It was special to walk around and talk with those that we had served with at The Dream Center that week and it was an excellent bookend to an incredible week in LA.
Sunday evening was really special for us who came all the way from Augusta. Tony, Haley, Michael, Cody, Joanna and I went out to the YWAM base about 30 minutes outside of LA to pick up our friend Esther and her friend Shirley to go grab some food. It was such a sweet moment getting to hang out and catch up with them as we ate and got coffee. The atmosphere and emotions can’t really be replicated in a blog post but It was just humbling to be in the same place with the people that I love so dearly doing and talking about the things about ministry and life that we enjoy doing together.
So much to process from this week. So many things to think and pray about as God is leading me into a new season. I have no idea what any of it looks like. I just know it looks so much different than any type of ministry I’ve ever done before. I believe I have been activated here for ministry back home. The Lord has done a tremendous work in my heart and soul.
I thank everyone who has kept up this week and for those that have supported me financially and in prayer. I believe so much in the power of intercession and it has been your prayers that have aligned this trip to go so well logistically and spiritually for me. So thank you:) I am forever grateful.
Until next time LA ❤
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