Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Updates and Prayers

Good Morning Friends:

I am writing to ya'll today to update you on the A-mazing things that God is doing in my life, my heart, my mind and my city. Some of you have no idea that I met with a represenative at the Mayor of Baltimore's office a little over a month ago to discuss my dreams and my visions for the City of Baltimore, including eventually opening my own Dream Center in the heart of the inner city. Well since then God has been doing some amazing things in my heart and the heart of those who are interested in my "efforts" (for lack of a better term). A week after I had that first meeting I received word from Mr. Augustus my contact at the Mayor's office that he had spoken with a local church and they were interested in hearing more about my dreams and how they could partner with me. At that time it looked as if I wouldn't be able to meet with these people until after Easter, well all of that got pushed aside and I met with Mr. Augustus and Mr. Larry Andrews (Who is doing some work with local gangs) yesterday.

This meeting was extremely productive, aside from sharing a little bit of my heart with Mr. Andrews, a tenative date (The second weekend of June) has been set for a block party in the Franklin Square area of West Baltimore, which will kick off the Adopt-A-Block program, that will allow myself and a team to adopt a few blocks in this neighborhood. I was able to see the inside of the Bethel Outreach Center that sits on Mcullough Street in Baltimore with almost the entire building under utilized. If I should decide that Bethel is the church to partner with in the city, the potential for use of this building is out of this world.

Sitting in the conference room in the Mayors Office and walking through the halls of this amazing building that no one is utilizing, I realized how much bigger God is than any of this. Through these meetings, the encouragement I am receiving from my friends, from people I don't even know and essentially the city of Baltimore is more than enough confirmation that God is clearing the path and waiting for me to follow it in doing amazing work for Him in a city that needs it.

I am asking you to join me in prayer for a few (okay MANY ) things:

* Prayer for patience, guidance and an open mind over the next few months. I know that the planning of this event is going to be so much fun, sometimes frusturating and overwhelming. I also know that Satan is going to attack me in ways I don't even know yet.

*For a team of people to come forward and be part of the main planning team and for people to come forward to volunteer their time this particular Saturday and the Saturday before for a prayer walk and the following Saturdays as we begin to form relationships with the people in this area of town and do our best to meet the needs of them.

*For the hearts of the people whom we have yet to meet, but I know that God is going to send to us.

*For finances, resources and donations to be able to pull this off.

*For guidance in making the decision to Partner with Bethel Church.

*For Dr. Reid (Pastor of Bethel Church), Mayor Dixon, Mr. Augustus and the other people whom I have yet to meet who will play an instumental part in making all of this happen.

Thank You Friends for your love, support and prayers.

Also for those of you who've not yet seen it I have attatched a copy of the vision plan I presented to Mr. Augustus a few weeks ago.

In His Loving Hands,
Colleen Smith

ps: If any of you are interested in hearing more about the burdens God has laid on my hearts, the upcoming events in the city or being a part of them please feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Not Dated entries

Not Dated…

Sunday I drove to Beverly Hills, drove down Sunset Blvd. to the Rodeo Drive and took a few pictures (it’s hard to believe that a few miles from the horrible places we’ve spent time there’s beauty) had dinner at an L.A. exclusive Sandwich shop called Togo’s mmm! That night I just really spent some serious time in prayer, God has laid a few things on my heart this week and so I’ve really been praying about how and where He wants to use me. It’s unbelievable the changes I’ve experienced here in my heart, in my mind and in my life. I came to Los Angeles with some burdens, things that I was worried and stressed about, and to be away from my comfort zone and my everyday life, I was able to really spend time talking to God about it, and really spend some time praying about it. I truly feel like I am going home someone totally different, someone with a plan and with dreams worth chasing.

Monday was a free day for my team, so we drove up to Hollywood Hills, took pictures with the Hollywood sign and stood on the “mountain” that over looked the city and said a quick prayer for the city in which we’d all just experienced life changes. We all went back to the Dream Center and had lunch together for the last time and then found ourselves perusing CityWalk before the Hillsong Concert.

We were blessed Monday evening with a concert from Hillsong United, it was an amazing concert and God was rocking that place. There were 5,000 people packed into that church, including 1400 in the overflow seating. Through the music of this amazing group, I heard God speaking to me in ways he never has. God has really worked in my heart and mind this week through my quiet times, the people I’ve met, the friendships I have made and the people I have served.

When I said goodbye to my team this morning I cried, I was saying goodbye to people who I’ve shared the most exhausting, exciting and emotional weeks of my life with, we had a special bond one I may never share with anyone ever again.

And I found myself at the same place I was this time last week doing my quiet time and writing in my journal. Reflecting on the people that I have met here this week, from Ysidro, the jolly servant to Christina in Hope for Homeless Youth, these people were amazing and played truly signifigant roles in the life changing experiences here at the Dream Center. I was extremely encouraged by Christina this morning, I went over to tell her how encouraged I was be her and she told me that I had actually encouraged her this week and that she’d been bragging about me and my heart and spirit this week. I wanted to cry, it’s amazing that you can encourage someone so much through your actions, we hugged and I knew that I would know this girl forever. Next on the list of goodbyes was Lyndsey my favorite girl from London, she was such an encouragement throughout the week, she’s in her 30’s and she has an AMAZING testimony to share. She reminded me how special God made me and what a beautiful person I am.

The joy and spirit in that place was amazing, I really feel God talking to me about this place. I feel him moving in my heart about it. I don’t even want to leave, I know the time spent here will be on my heart and mind forever. The time has come for me to turn in my keys and let this be a memory for now.

Some fun things I learned in Los Angeles:
1.Always have a quarter as it’s valuable when you need to use the restroom.
2. Movie stars are real people too and you must remain calm, cool and collected when they are filming a movie.
3. The fastest way to be kicked off a movie set is to open the door right outside where they are filming and yell, “Oh my Gosh, it really is Randy Travis. Because when you do the director cuts and does a re-do, however not before telling you you must remain quiet on the set or leave!

August 2006
Wow I sit here in Detroit one flight away from being home from the trip of a lifetime and I am scared! I left my trip a totally different person, I left with distractions in my life, I left with some priorities out of line and even more I left with an attitude about something’s in my life that’s far from Godly.
It’s hard to admit when you fall short but I’ve done it and I am so happy that I allowed You to work in me Lord, thank you for that, thank you for changing my life, thank you for the prayers from my friends who some didn’t even know what they were praying for and thank you Lord for listening to me when I asked you to use me, break me and mold me, I truly believe that over these last couple of weeks I have been used, broken and molded.
Well Lord here’s my cue, I am boarding my flight home, so here is where I beg you Lord to allow me the strength to continue to be strong, continue to allow me to be used, broken and molded and please Father continue to urge my friends to pray for me even when they don’t why. Thank YOU Lord!
Photo: Thomas in Compton

August 5, 2006

August 5th, 2006

Yesterday was probably the most exhausting day I have experienced this week, we spent almost the entire day on Skid Row, we got there around 9 a.m. and walked about four blocks and told the people who are living there about the hot meal that we would be serving there later. We invited them all to join us (Skid Row looks a little different during the day, because the tents are all down, but there are still people everwhere, I don’t think I mentioned this before but there are 10,000 people who live on Skid Row). Whild on this walk we once again encountered people smoking crack pipes right in front of us, on one block the weed was so thick I am pretty sure most of us had contact high, a man chased me down a block telling me I had nice child bearing hips and did I want to come back to his box, when I kindly declined he told me that when I came back that afternoon he would have a wedding gown, flowers and a ring waiting for me, I guess you’ve not lived until you’ve been chased down Skid Row J! It’s been a long time since I have been truly scared doing what I do, but this day I encountered a man who scared me, one was the man who really was so strung out he had a demonic look on his face, like he was going to come at me at anytime, it kind of freaked me out a little.

*I haven’t mentioned this yet, but 85% of the people who live on Skid Row suffer from some form of mental disorder this day there were several people that yelled and screamed at us, there was a man who was threatening to kill the next person who crossed his path and a woman who was throwing pieces of glass at us as we walked by. Something else that is distinct about Skid Row are the smells, the first time we went to Skid Row it made me nauseous, the mixture of the scent of people who’ve not bathed in a while, sex, drugs, alcohol and the scent of rotten things, make the air smell horrible, by the third or fourth time you go there you’ve pretty much become accustomed too it.

When we went back in the afternoon some of the people we’d seen earlier were there, but there was an entirely different spirit among the people for the most part, people were more friendly. There was a little tension, but it’s because the Wed. prior someone was stabbed in the food line they were arguing over a glass of water. The men and women who came through the line that day were for the most part thankful.

I had the opportunity to speak and pray with two women the first if Rosemary, she’s from Trinidad and has been on and off Skid Row for the past 10 years. She’s here illegally as she can’t get her papers, she told me that lots of people get there papers illegally, but she didn’t want to do that! I asked her if I could pray with her (she was a little reluctant at first because she said people have been praying about this for 10 years), but she let me and then she asked me if she could pray for me, it’s such a beautiful thing when people who are struggling and hurting want to pray for you, and their prayers are so sincere. The second woman I met was Wanda, she gave up everything she had and moved on to Skid Row after her husband died so that she could put her son through school. She told us that she trusted that God had her there for a reason and that she hoped she could be a testimony for someone. She had an amazing spirit about her. I truly believe that woman will bring a calm spirit among those on Skid Row. We prayed with her and as we were preparing to leave she asked me if I would write her name down some where and continue to pray for her, I most certainly did.

As we were leaving the VOA, this guy Eric came up and started talking to us and asked us if we wouldn’t mind praying for him and as we were people just gathered around and joined in it was so beautiful, (Chris and Lydia, told us that this was the first time anything like that had ever happened and they’ve both been leading this ministry for over six months). The ministry they run there is called Under the Bridge until about 4 months ago, they would go under the bridges in L.A. and feed the homeless, however not many stay under the bridges during the day anymore, so they moved to the Volunteers of America shelter on Skid Row. Through this ministry 3,000 people get fed over two days.

When we got back to the dorms it was naptime for the majority of my team as we were on the 11p.m.-5:45 a.m. outreach. At 11p.m. we met in the parking lot of Hope for Homeless Youth and prepared for the nightclub outreach, we went to the nice strip of Sunset Blvd. that leads in Hollywood Blvd. with all the hot hangouts, including the Body Shop a 100% nude dance club, one group (my group went there) and the other group walked up and down Sunset Blvd. and just told people to have a safe night. It was there I met Victoria, she’s 24 and is originally from Kenya, she lives and works as a nurse in Minnesota now, she was visiting Los Angeles with some friends. However, this night she was lost on Sunset Blvd., she couldn’t find her friends and once we started talking she really opened up to me and told me that she’s in an abusive relationship, she told me how unhappy her mother would be because she was raised in a Christian family and that she knows that she’s not doing the right thing. She begged for prayer, begged for deliverance and eventually begged for me to take her phone number and hold her accountable for her actions. I did take her number and I called her on Saturday, she told me she couldn’t believe that I would actually call her. She was crying out so much for God it hurt, it broke my heart, made me want to cry with her, she was so lost but wanted so bad to find her way.
*While outside the Body Shop we also met one of the strippers, she told us that since she’s been interacting with the STM’S and the outreach directors that come down in the evenings she’s been convicted and is planning to leave the business and could we please continue to pray for her. She told me specifically that she would be leaving the business sooner than later, but she just wasn’t quite ready yet.

While on this trip I have been taken out of my comfort zone many times, but I have learned so much about who I am and who God made me, it’s been amazing.

We came back to the Dream Center in just enough time to leave for the prostitute outreach, it broke my heart to hear about the life of a prostitute. I never imagined that it would be such a hard life, so hard to get out of. There weren’t many girls out that night, but there were a few, basically what out goal was, was to make them realize that they are special, we hand them a rose and tell them that we and God think they are so beautiful. The saddest part was to watch them get in a vehicle and drive away. We later found out that there weren’t many girls out that night because they were new, the circuit just changed and usually they take a few days to get to know the area, before they are out full force. I learned through this outreach that the pimps have a huge network, there is usually one head pimp in every state and every major city and they are all connected, every three weeks or so they rotate the girls, sometimes state to state.

On our way back to the dorms the guy who leads the outreach shared his testimony, he told us that he and his wife were both prostitutes at one time and very familiar with the street life, and God placed it on their heart to start this ministry. His testimony was awesome.

*We learned through this outreach that girls are afraid to leave the life because of the horror the pimps put them through when they leave, some of them get chased whether it be state to state, a lot of them get abused, we heard an awful story of a girl who tried to leave the life and her pimp, killed her baby and then abused her with a curling iron so that she could never have kids again, she asked the Dream Center to help her escape the life and they came one night put her in a Dream Center van and her pimp chased them, eventually she went through the program at the Dream Center and got her life together, but unfortunately for her, her life will never be the same.

Back at the Dream Center on the blacktop before we left, while we were praying for outreach a helicopter kept flying over head, it was low and was shining its spotlights down on us, as we were leaving for outreach we saw why, there were tons of police cars and ambulances outside this club about a block away from the Dream Center, so we knew something had happened there, as we were coming back from outreach several hours later, there were two dead bodies laying where ambulances were blocking them earlier. We were told that it’s not that unusual were told but it still broke my heart and made me once again question whether or not I am fully prepared for the things I am witnessing here.

God I ask you to protect the people of this city, Lord we are at war with another country but it’s like the people of this city are at war with each other, it’s a very sad state of affairs.

August 5th, 2006 1 p.m.

I feel so bad for sleeping through my alarm which in turn made me miss adopt-a-block, obviously I needed the rest, when I woke up I realized several others from my team had also overslept, so we went down to the coffee shop and prayed for our team and the work they were doing. When they returned we all went out for a team lunch, it was nice to be able to unwind from our week off campus together and really talk about the things that are happening in this city, it was also nice to have time to bond with them.

That evening was SNR (Saturday Night Redefined) at the church, it’s basically youth night, they host it every Saturday, the message was powerful, the worship and the people were amazing the place was packed. It was so exciting to see so many youth packed into one place and so on Fire for God. There were kids that we had met through out the week, from Metro Kidz, Adopt-a-Block and all the other many outreaches we were on throughout the week,that had come to church that evening. There was once again several kids who accepted Christ that night, which once again was such a beautiful thing.

Four of us from my team, were on outreach from 10:45 p.m.- 3:00 a.m. that night, the Boyztown outreach, it’s the Gay outreach, we went into West Hollywood and hung out with the people there, we basically were to try and start conversations with them, and let them know that while we didn’t agree with their lifestyle, we loved them and so does God. I had the opportunity to have several amazing conversations, the one that touched my heart the most was one I had was with this guy Robert, he said he hated being gay, but he didn’t think he could change, I had the opportunity to pray with him, I prayed that God would work in him, and heal his heart, make him realize if he just put his faith in Him (God) he could have a new amazing life. Another guy I met was Damian, it was unclear whether or not he was gay or if he just worked the door at this club, he was a quiet soul, he was very interested in my life and really what the point of this outreach was and what I was doing in L.A., and honestly the whole point of that night was to just have conversations with people, whether or not they were about God, that’s exactly what I did and I had so many amazing conversations that night, and met so many amazing guys, lost or not each of them had a special testimony and each of them was willing to share it once you got them to open up.

One of the most amazing men I met that night was Fairie, he’s a dancer and Rage one of the hottest clubs in Hollywood, Gay or not, apparently all the stars hang out there, and I would believe it the line to get in that place at one point in the night was a couple of blocks long. Anyway, his story goes a little something like this, he was in the youth group at his church, he grew up in a fairly stable Christian home, when he was 12 he told the pastor’s daughter he was sexy, so he was kicked out of youth group, thinking he’d never be right with God again he decided to rebel, he became Gay, now he loves it so much he’s just not quite sure he’s ready to give that lifestyle up yet. The good news he’s promised one of the girls who runs the outreach that he would go to church with her.

On the way back from outreach that night God really laid it on my heart to pray for these men, so I asked if I could lead a prayer, (which for those of you who know me well, praying out loud in a group of people is not my strong point, God really broke me out of that this week as I was asked to lead prayer in front of a large group SEVERAL times). So we prayed almost the entire way back from outreach. Once we got back around 3:45ish I just laid in bed, and prayed some more, it was amazing how many nights I found myself just laying in bed crying and praying.
Notes: Photo is a prostitute on Skid Row getting ready to shoot up.
*All things in bold/italicized were added from memory later.

August 3-August4, 2006

August 3rd,2006

Wow I didn’t wake up with a very good attitude Lord, I want to go home, I don’t know why, I just kind of feel icky! I know that once the day really starts I’ll be fine, but this morning is a struggle. When I shared my struggle with someone this morning, they encouraged me to read Romans 15:30 which reads, “I urge you brothers and sisters by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Love of the spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for Me.” I was assured that people would be praying for me.

August 4th, 2006

Wow, God you did an awesome work in my life yesterday! I woke up with such a horrible bitter attitude and you God were so faithful and crossed my path with amazing people who really blessed my life yesterday. It started with the DC academy, where I met the most amazing kids, specifically, Jesse, Tabitha and Iris! Lord those kids all come from completely different places but they are all here in the teen DCD program, they really needed some encouragement Lord, and I was able to give it to them, they found me last night after church and told me that I had encouraged them. Jesse and Iris both wanted to run from the program, the conversations I had with them encouraged them to stay. Iris and I had a pretty intense conversation about her life and I told her she should use her cousin as her living testimony, she specifically told me that it was because of me that she was staying in the program. It made me smile to know that I could have such an impact on someone. Iris was sick a couple of days into my time there, but I made sure to send a message to her and let her know I was thinking of her and would be continuing to pray for her.

*I should explain the DC Academy, is a private Christian school that’s run by the Dream Center, all of the students who go there with the exception of one are kids who are either in the Teen DCD program or are kids from the neighborhood, who are struggling with some kinds of issues, ie:(drugs, alcohol, gangs or trouble in school). The kids are all for the most part very awesome kids, who just need some love and encouragement. They are in school from 8:00-3:00 and at 9:30 are required to attend chapel in the gym, it was amazing, our job that day was to tutor them and encourage them. In the program I worked in there are approx. 30 kids.

After DC Academy, we had lunch and then my team headed out for MetroKidz in one of the most ghetto neighborhoods I have ever been in (It was so bad that they had told us what colors we could and couldn’t wear), it was there that I met the most precious kids from Priscilla the most beautiful girl I have ever seen to “Jose” Miguel, the nine year old tough boy who eventually opened his heart to me and told me his story, to Thomas the cute little boy who just wanted to be a ham for the camera. MetroKidz is such an awesome interactive program that really got the kids involved, the exciting part for me was actually getting them to get involved by singing and doing the motions for the songs, to cheering them on in their games and reciting the bible verses with them. I was lucky enough to be able to pray with two of the 26 kids who received Christ that afternoon. There was such an amazing spirit in that area I loved those kids.

*While at MetroKidz we met kids who are nine years old and being influenced by gangs, kids who come from families where mom is a prostitute, dad is dealing on the corner and their brothers and sisters and in the most prominent gangs in L.A., these kids just want someone to love them and dote on them. The volunteers who volunteer for MetroKidz are solely devoted to these kids, there are about six-seven volunteers per neighborhood and they are in about five different neighborhoods per week. The week we were there was the beginning of two four week programs if the kids came to MetroKidz every week for four weeks they could earn a free trip to the beach, it was a field trip they would all take one Sunday after church, and if they came every Tuesday for for weeks they would earn a free backpack that would be filled with all the goodies they would need to start school with. They do various projects like this throughout the year.

Later that night was the mid-week service at the church, there was an awesome spirit in that place, this church was amazing, there was room for thousands of people in that place (The Dream Center does a bus ministry and bring in homeless people and youth from Hollywood, L.A., Santa Monica and Venice Beach), this particular night there were thousands of people, the worship was incredible, the message was powerful (a pastor from a church in San Bernadino spoke that night about his life, the message was about how God really can use “Losers”) and really hit home. At the end of his message he invited those who didn’t know Christ to come to know Christ that night 500 people (yes 500) accepted Christ under that roof that night, there was not a dry eye in the place (One of the girls from my team, she’s amazing rededicated her life that night)! There was not room for everyone to go down to the front for Pastor Matthew to pray for them, so as many as could went down front and the other filled the stairs leading up to the balcony, it was such a beautiful thing. To come back to campus and try to sleep was nearly impossible, I was just so pumped that I couldn’t sleep, I just laid in my bed and prayed. Prayed for the people of this city, the ones who are lost and confused and running from the truth.

*This church is truly a 24/7 church and they make that known at all of their services, they are always available and always moving through this city. This night there was a homeless man who sat next to me, I saw this man several more times during my time in California, specifically in Santa Monica, but it was that night that he really touched my heart, he said very little to me and as soon as church was over he hopped over the seats and took off, it wasn’t until a few days later that I saw him again, but he said to me didn’t I sit next to you at church the other night, he told me that he wanted to pray with someone that night but was scared so he just left, he asked me if I would pray with him and I did. It was so awesome!

Notes: Bold and Italicized parts are things I added from memory later.

August 2, 2006

August 2nd,2006

All I can say is wow! Yesterday hurt, broke my heart into ten million pieces, I don’t think I will ever be the same, from the amazing tour and story of the Dream Center, to my afternoon outreach to the team that adopted me to my evening outreach.

I was so encouraged by the story of the Dream Center, two young guys (19/20) came to Los Angeles from the Midwest, never had they ever experienced a place such as this and here they were getting shot at, chased by pimps and completely attacked by Satan, yet they pressed on, they continued to follow the plan God had for them, they had very little money, but by the Grace of God they were able to buy this campus! I see the people here and how excited, full of joy and filled with love they are and how they are all here by the Grace of God, and I know that it is by no coiencidence that God has me here experiencing this. We toured the campus yesterday morning and it’s just so amazing the things that are happening here.

I was adopted by a team from Florida yesterday morning and they’ve really made me feel like a huge part of their family, which honestly I think coming here alone was a great thing but at the same time it’s tough to experience some of these things alone. Our first outreach was the Food Truck, basically they have these huge (think UPS) trucks and they are filled completely to the top with food there is a middle aisle where the team stands to pack the food. There are 100 numbers distributed and those 100 people get food, and all the leftovers are put at the end of the truck to be distributed freely it’s supposed to be a smooth process, but really it just turned into semi-organized chaos, people were pushing, shoving, mauling us, mauling each other it was insanity, it hurts to know that I have so much I take for granted and these people were fighting over three peppers and a honeydew.

We eventually had the chance to talk to these people, but there was a huge language barrier but there were times when we could decipher what was going on. I met the cutest, frailest woman she was probably in her 70’s and so beautiful, I just wanted to pack her up and bring her home with me. On the way back to the Dream Center we stopped to give this family some food and pray for them, they were the most loving family the boys names were Dennis and Jerry ( Jerry had autism), the moms name was Myrna, the mom and the grandmother, whose name I don’t remember, but they were very poor, but made a wonderful meal for us to take back to the Dream Center, gave us Gatorade, popsicles, ice cream bars and water! It was such a beautiful thing to watch them want to serve us so much when we were there to serve them.

When we arrived back to the Dream Center and literally had about 20 minutes between outreach and dinner, immediately after dinner we went to Skid Row, this is where I saw and experienced things I am not sure I was ready for, a pimp beating his prostitute, many people shooting up with needles right in front of us, people smoking crack pipes out in the open, drugs and sex everywhere, a prostitute who was much younger than me sold her body right in front of me. It broke my heart, men and women were outraged that I would want to share my awesome God with them! People in the deepest darkest pits of life, people who used to be successful business owners, war veterans and world travelers, living in the most horrible nastiest place I have ever seen.

On the way back to my dorm I lost it, I just couldn’t hold back the tears, the pain, the heartache I felt for these people. The fact you couldn’t walk down the the sidewalk because of tents, the boxes and mattresses and whatever else these people could find to make “homes” out of, people were fighting over boxes.

I stood in front of the Midnight Mission, the Union Rescue Mission and on the corners of both San Juan and San Pedro, in front of the row of porta-potties where prostitutes turn tricks all of the stuff I read about in the articles before I came here, I even met the woman who the report wrote about in the articles. It’s crazy!

I think the two people who I will remember the most from last night are Willie he was this really cute man that we prayed with and gave them bread and in turn he gave us some candy, none of us will be eating it for obvious reasons J! But I saved it to put in my journal so I can always remember to pray for him. The other man I met who I will remember is Otis, he’s a war veteran he would have talked all night if I’d let him! Not long after I met Otis it was time for us to head back, Eric drove us back through Skid Row and the further you went the worse it got, when I got back and was laying in bed I couldn’t stop crying and praying for these people. My heart was aching and I had horrible dreams all night long.

It was hard to eat breakfast this morning thinking of these people and this morning we experienced something even more crazy, we experienced something even more crazy, we did discipleship. We worked with three guys from the discipleship program and we did a 3-mile adopt-a-block, we basically walked three miles from and around the Dream Center and cleaned the streets, we swept up needles, condoms, pieces of what appeared to be shotgun shells and baggies filled with remnants of white powder, it was awful to think of the things that took place there earlier. About 45 minutes into the walk, we heard gunshots about a block away, and about two minutes later ambulances and fire trucks speeding by! Talk about being scared, but out here you just have to trust! Trust that God is going to take care of you.
This afternoon we went to Hollywood, the people you see there are so eclectic the people here are so eclectic in general, but the goal of this outreach was two things, one to reach the homeless youth of Hollywood and also to learn about the new and upcoming religion especially in California Scientology, Lord listening to the woman giving the tour it was so hard not to tell her the truth, explain to her how amazing you are Lord, but the purpose of us being there was too really be educated about this new religion so that we know what we are talking about when we encounter people who believe this! The exhibit was beautiful aside from what they are teaching there.

To get to the L. Ron Hubbard exhibit we parked at the Mann’s Chinese theater and walked about a mile down the Hollywood Walk of Fame! That was kind of cool! On the way back to the van, we saw two very young undercover cops do a drug bust in the middle of the sidewalk, Crazy! We also saw two “rent-a-cops” giving this homeless woman a hard time, which I wanted to tell them to leave her alone but then I realized who knows what she did. But when we got back to the van there was so much to talk about because some of us did the homeless part of the outreach and the rest of us, did the scientology museum. The people we met and encountered that day were amazing!

I unfortunately got sick while on outreach! So I was not allowed to go on tonight’s outreach, I was told that I had to get bed rest, I am truly bummed, but obviously I needed the rest and there is a reason I am here and not there.

I beg you Lord, to give me the strength to go on Lord, please God allow me to get the rest I need tonight, so that I will be 100% ready to serve you tomorrow, Lord!

Lord thank you for allowing me these amazing opportunities here in Los Angeles, Lord thank you for breaking me, taking me out of my comfort zone and giving me the words to share you with the people I meet, thank you for the friendships you are forming here Lord, thank you Lord for the beautiful sunset you allowed me to witness tonight that calmed my heart. Lord most of all thank you for sacrificing your life for me, father so I could be here today.

“This is your life are you who you wanna be, this if your life is it everything you dreamed it would be, when the world was younger and you had everything to lose!” –Switchfoot.

Father here I am again in tears completely broken, I try to be strong but I am not as strong as I thought please God tell me that as the days pass by it’ll get easier, the tears won’t come so easily? It’s okay to cry for them right? To think about every story I have heard and cry because they are all so sad, yet all so different, so unique but so real, and each one of them a testimony to the person they came from. I think of Pres, Alfred, Esteban and Ysidro (all men in the discipleship program), the men who get excited to see us in the morning, at lunchtime and at dinner, who we get too do outreaches with and whom we “bump” into on campus. I think about how much joy is in every single on of them, and how they came from the places we are working in the deepest, darkest pits of life and how much in love with our amazing God they are now. Thank you Lord for these men and women in the discipleship program Lord, who you are using to encourage us. These people make me think about the people I am meeting here and how maybe just maybe someday they will be there with me rejoicing in you Lord, father thank you.

Prayer Request: Please Father, allow me to be patient with Kerri Jo (A member of my team), Father God, please allow me to be more open minded about her story, where she’s been, where she’s going and her life father. Thank you.
Photo:Mobile Food Bank Neighborhood

July 31st-August 1st

July 31st, 2006 5:15 a.m.

Wow! I can’t believe it’s 5:15 in the morning and in a few short long minutes I will be boarding my flight to Los Angeles. Man am I nervous! Nervous, scared, anxious, but none-the-less excited! I still feel like I am going to throw up though J! Well it’s that time, here I am Lord, use me, break me and mold me.

July 31st 5:45 p.m.

So I don’t think it’s a coiencidence that I sat by Cheyenne today. God she’s an amazing 10 year old girl, whose so on fire for You, Lord one of the first things out of her mouth was, “are you a Christian?” She then began telling me about the church that her grandfather planted in Pasadena. She even invited me to attend a church service there if my schedule permitted. Her church works with the homeless people in Pasadena, she was VERY excited when I told her why I was traveling to Los Angeles. When we got off the plane and were standing at the baggage claim, she said to me, God bless you, I hope you have a great trip. She was so sweet. I gave her my e-mail address on a pass along, there’s a part of me that hopes someday I’ll hear from her.

August 1st, 2006

I was so exhausted last night that I fell asleep in the middle of writing, I guess the time change and jet lag and the fact I had been up since 3:00 a.m. had something to do with that J!

I just wanted to thank you Lord for allowing me to be encouraged by Cheyenne, she’s amazing, and the fact that she’s only 10 and so on fire just makes me stand in awe of her!

So I arrived at the Dream Center around 3:30 PST, I checked in and went to my room, it wasn’t long before I was ready to explore! So I drove to Sunset Blvd., it’s crazy there, I went to Echo Park, it’s this huge beautiful park, with a fountain in the middle of the lake, a beautiful bridge and a nice garden. The best part on one side of the park they were filming a movie on the other they were doing a photo shoot for a magazine. Wow! Eventually I made my way to historic Filiponotown, it’s kind of cool there, lots of ethnic restaurants and stores, that’s where McArthur Park is located it appears to be just a bigger version of Echo Park, they were working on a movie there as well! I passed under a bridge and I saw the people of my heart; homelessness here is nothing like the homeless problem in D.C. or Baltimore, the people here sleep EVERYWHERE, they actually make homes out of shopping carts boxes and whatever else they can find. They put there mattresses so close to the road that if they rolled they would roll right into mass amounts of traffic, I quickly said a prayer for them and then continued on so it wouldn’t appear that I was gawking. It broke my heart and made me cry for them!

August 1st, 2006 7:57 a.m.

This morning started early, I was awake before 6:00 , I had showered and done my devotional and quiet time, I met a really awesome team from Virginia, W. Virginia and two girls from Maryland at breakfast this morning. We had breakfast in the “DC Diner” they turned the cafeteria into a 50’s style diner! After breakfast I came outside to do my quiet time, I have the most beautiful view of Hollywood Hills, but the best part is I have an eclectic view of the people who are at the Dream Center, from the DCD’s (Dream Center Disciples) to the teen DCD’s (Teen Dream Center Disciples) to the STM’s (Short term missionaries) to the people who actually live and work here.

There are hundreds of men and women in the DCD program, the number one rule is that we are not allowed to talk to them unless they speak to us. We can say hello, how are you, thank you and God Bless, but that’s pretty much it. They have them on a very intense schedule, they pretty much get up at the crack of dawn and work late into the night. The men and women in the DCD program are so amazing and beautiful men and women.

First Post

So most of you will be directed here via my Los Angeles 2007 Summer Missions Support letter, some of you will be my friends whom I have directed here and others will stumble here by accident, however you may have found your way here please enjoy being a part of my life for two weeks last summer while I experienced God in ways I never could have imagined!

This will be a place where you can read and learn about the experiences and challenges I faced last summer, but also find updates about my upcoming trip to Los Angeles and even sometimes about the things that God is doing right here right now in my own life.

Thanks for visiting!