On the flight to L.A., I was able to listen to a book Same Kind of Different as Me, a story of a modern day slave, who gets himself free, but with nothing to his name, finds himself homeless & eventually seeking assistance via the local mission. This was a great insight into the world we were going into on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.
We lived in South L.A., in a warehouse type building with no windows...it was safe feeling! I was so happy to have a bed to sleep on and indoor plumbing, so it was just great. I enjoyed being a part of the neighborhood and feeling like we were really living among the people of that area. Just to make us feel a little more at home and a part of the city, we were just across the street from the commuter train, which started about 6 a.m. every morning.
Our daily schedule included heading downtown to walk the streets, work with the local missions, hang out with the children of the community in their after school programs, enjoy the different areas & ethnicities of the city as well as some of the great things that L.A. has to offer.
I also met & got to talk with a man named LK (Long Kane) @ the diner where we ate lunch with Annie. He is an articulate man, born & raised in Georgia & had come to L.A. to pursue his writing passion. He was kind & moved his composition book so I could sit next to him in the diner. I loved chatting with him & he was kind enough to chat with this mid-westerner.
This makes me think of my buddy, Ronnie, the newspaper stand worker who asked me to run across the street & get him some scrambled eggs for breakfast. He kindly put the $2.25 in my hand & said (in your best southern drawl) have them cook them lightly, you know, throw them on the griddle, stir them & take 'em off...quick like. I smiled, ran across the street, ordered up the eggs (for which I had exact change) & ran them back to Ronnie before they got cold. He thanked me & I ran back to catch up with the rest of our group. I later walked by Ronnie's stand again & he asked to have our picture taken by his friend, an aspiring photographer in Los Angeles.
We shared breakfast with Vern one morning, the same morning I brought eggs to Ronnie. Vern has been back & forth between Georgia and L.A. for the past 15 years. Most recently he came to L.A. to bury his mother & has no desire or reason to go back to Georgia. He is a master carpenter, but also loves his alcohol, so he has, unfortunately drank his family away & his most recent wife is doing time in a CA prison for killing her most recent husband. It was great to talk with Vern about his life & his belief in God.
Our opportunities to serve were amazing & focused around the people of L.A. We were able to serve @ the Midnight Mission on skid row by doing a bit of food prep (chop/chop) & then serve the approximately 500 people who come through their for 3 meals a day (we served lunch)One of our ministry opportunities came in the form of helping 'Sister' Luz & her International Missionary Outreach unload/load/unload & distribute this van full of clothes & food. The van is loaded/unloaded/loaded/unloaded every week, as she receives many donations that are brought back to her house, which is full to the ceiling, with donations of food/clothing/household items. So, we got to help her do a part of that work that she does every week. It was amazing & a little overwhelming to see that amount of stuff she had to manage & turn around. Here we are rehearsing for the service we would lead @ the Filipino Cultural Center with Sister Luz - she's on the far right of this picture.
Driving in LA was a blast & makes me realize just how many people do NOT live in the MidWest. Coming back to Kansas City driving, I was thinking...'where is everybody' & 'these parking spaces are HUGE'. Funny the things we realize when being thrust into new adventures & circumstances.
We were able to go to some great spots around the city for our nightly debriefing time. This was a time to reflect on the events of the day, as a large group, and talk through what we had experienced as our 2 separate groups. So, Tim & I's groups were together during this evening debrief, so we got to see some of the great sites of the city together. This is a picture of us @ the Water Courts in downtown L.A., beautiful park area, overlooking the city & surrounded by skyscrapers.
Another night, for debriefing time, we went to the Griffith Observatorygreat view of the Hollywood Signviews overlooking the city & the skylines of LA, Hollywood & Santa Monica - you could really see the massiveness of the city from up here...just another eye opening experience.
We had a great time reenergizing and unwinding with a visit to the Santa Monica beach as well. This is a picture of me with our Freshman girls that came on the trip. What a great week hangin' with them & working together.
Our final day @ the CSM housing site, we took a group photo in front of the mural that is painted inside. I guess we kind of covered it up, but it's a mural of the city & the faces of the many different people that live in L.A.