Sunday, December 26, 2010

2nd to last post

Final post other than our Christmas post. So I guess it's not our final post...oh well. Here are the final pictures for the year. The year of not blogging enough.

I have fallen in love with sewing. Yes. Me. Sewing. I love it. I began over a year ago with a nap mat for Courtney, I believe I blogged about it. Then over a year later I finally got my sewing machine out and made an apron for Courtney. This is not it. This is for her friend Lucas Foliart. But it is the same idea. Super cute, super fun and totally reversible!
Courtney LOVES babies. This is our friend's baby, who's name has totally slipped my mind. She is 7 weeks old here and Courtney LOVES to hold her. Just hold her. It is absolutely precious.
Ethan's 4th grade class. They are all getting so big!

Our visit to see Santa...a stop at the sunglass station. NO. We didn't buy them.

 Simply precious.

Friday, December 10, 2010

the brokenhearted

Psalm 34:18 "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted 
   and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

This verse rings true when I think about my trip. One of the things that hit me most from my trip was the homeless and the love from Christ. Some times as we go about out daily lives, filled with errands and chores, work and play, we find Christ's love on the back burner. Not where it was intended to be. Some of the people I came across had nothing, nothing to do the next day, no job to go to, no family to kiss good night, no floor to mop, no food to eat. But they had the love of Christ. Someone said that sometimes it takes having nothing to have Christ. They don't need to "make room" for him as we some times do, all they have is room. I am so humbled to hear a homeless man profess Christ's love and forgiveness.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My First Mission Trip

As I prayed about my 'first mission trip' I asked God to lead me, lead me where he wants me to go. I had contemplated Africa...too much I thought. Then this trip to Los Angeles came up at our church and I thought "perfect, I'll start small". As the trip got closer I felt bad..."a mission trip to Los Angeles, CA...really?". I felt dumb even saying it. Most people thought it was more of a vacation than a mission/outreach trip. I must say, I was embarrassed to say that was where I was going but still excited to see where God was taking me. We left Thursday afternoon. Arrived at LAX and sat in traffic for nearly 1.5 hours to get to church by 7. Our first experience in CA was one of the most incredible church services I have ever been to. As we walk in the Angelus Temple, it is not the same as what we see on a normal Sunday. There are security guards all over, there are homeless men and women in the sanctuary, there are 'gangster' looking guys, crippled men and women, people from every ethnicity you can probably think of. But all with one goal. To worship Jesus. And let me tell you, I don't just mean worship Jesus like sing the lyrics on the screen, or hold their hymnal and sing the words as though they have sang them a thousand times. I mean WORSHIP JESUS. Take away the hands raised, some people think that's weird. Take away the jumping up and down, again, some people think that's weird. The pure presence in the room was something I can not describe. The smiles on the faces of people that clearly have nothing to return to, you can feel God looking down on the congregation with tears in his eyes out of joy. I have literary never experienced something like this service. Looking around seeing young and old, well dressed to rags, freshly showered to couldn't remember the last shower. It was amazing.

From there we went to the Dream Center where we would be staying for the next 3 nights. This place is incredible...the work they are doing in the community is something that I really can't even describe. We did all of our outreach missions through the Dream Center...though we only did a few as we were only there 2 days, I was amazed by what this place does. I would suggest going online and reading about it.

On Friday my team went on a outreach call "Project Prevention". What this is for is families who are close to losing their children due to poverty issues. DHS in California contacts the Dream Center and works with them to keep these children in their homes. We went 5 different "homes"...I say "homes" because it is nothing near what we consider a home. As I sit here on my couch, in my living room, looking down one hallway of my house, my kitchen off to my right, Christmas tree to my left, stocking hung on our fireplace I am reminded of how much less of a 'home' these people had. One place we went into did not even have a 'living room' big enough for a couch. A small hallway lead to I am assuming very small bedrooms and a bathroom. We took these families food, tons of food and they were thankful. We prayed with them, we loved on their children, we let them know they are loved. See, without this food, the 1 year old little girl I held, would be taken from her Mommy. Without that food, that home would be broken, heart would be broken, lives would be devastated. And that was just one place. As we traveled around East Los Angeles we got to see first hand the "rough areas"...and they are rough. One of the girls who was with us told us that some times their rent is as little as $50...and they can not afford that. $50 rings in my head...I spend that on jeans! I don't get out of Wal-Mart without spending $50 most of the time...and that could pay some one's rent?! My heart was broken. It took me from a usual judgmental place, where my mind says "they could do better, they could make better choices" to "they too are children of God, they too are in need of God's love, it doesn't matter what their circumstance".

Friday night...this was honestly the main thing I wanted to do while we were there. I didn't really know why, but it's where God lead me...where my heart was being pulled and now I know why. Saturday night was "skid row". Being from CA, I know what that means...well, I thought I did. Skid row is blocks of homeless people. I thought it was one street. Skid Row is people sleeping on the sidewalks, tents on the sidewalk, sleeping bags on the sidewalk, blankets on the sidewalk and sometimes just a body on the sidewalk. No pillows, no heaters, no bathrooms, no drink of water in the middle of the night, NO security from anything. As we prepared to go to skid row, they handed us cereal bars and ginger ale in a can. We could give a homeless person 1 of each until we ran out. A cereal bar and a non name brand ginger ale people! And they were thankful for it. They wanted more of it, they returned a "God Bless You" for a cereal bar and ginger ale! As we walked along the streets of skid row my heart was broken. The first couple of people I stopped to talk to was 2 hispanic guys, maybe 25. Nice jeans, nice shoes...sitting on the rest of their belongings in a white trash bag. They would be sleeping there that night. I spoke such broken Spanish I could not explain to them what I was trying to say. The Dream Center has buses that will pick them up for church. I wanted them to know that. I eventually got an interpreter from our group and she let them know. They smiles on their faces were worth gold. They were thankful that I took the time to talk with them and invited them to church. They let us pray for them, I gave them a hug and went on. The next guy I talked to had been there a while. Not as nice of clothes, dirty, and on less of a trash bag full of clothes. I asked him if I could pray for him. He said yes. I asked what I can pray for. He started crying. He cried and told me he loves Jesus, he wants to make the right choices, he doesn't want to sin anymore. This man was sitting on Skid Row, with no home and he asked me to ask Jesus for forgiveness for him and for conviction to make the right choices. He didn't ask me to pray for a home for him to go to, a bed for him to lay in, a shower for him to get clean in...he asked me for forgiveness. Breaks my heart but at the same time gives me such hope. That seemed to be most of the people I talked to down there. They loved Jesus! They knew he was waiting for them in heaven and they were thankful. They didn't complain about their situation, they were thankful for God, while they had nothing. That part was amazing. Then there were the drugs, the prostitution, the drunkenness....I saw it all. And it's not like the movies. It's dirty, it smells, the prostitutes are 5'7" gorgeous women. Here is a text I sent to my husband when we got back from Skid Row that night: "Tonight I walked down blocks of homeless people. Gave out cereal bars and sodas. Prayed with people who will sleep on the street but had conviction for their sins. Listened to stories of a great God as they walked back to their plastic bag of belongings. Saw people peeing on the ground.  Saw drugs, prostitutes and even prostitutes in vans in the act. I saw only one child.  Maybe 4. In a car, front seat. While her mom made a drug deal. Hearing her say 'mommy'. On skid row. The least of her worries is a lack of a car seat. I was not scared. I embraced the situation and was blessed myself. To know God is great. To remember I am blessed beyond belief. A homeless man says he prays for us, the people who come bring them them things and love on them. He says "no house, no job, no food, no bed...but the homeless can pray too" he was appreciative enough to let us know he is doing the same for us. Another guy. Maybe my age. Barely spoke English. Nice shoes, nice clothes. But will sleep on the street tonight. Hoping he will have a job next week. Eager to try the church here. Thanking me over and over. God is changing me. God is using me."

The last day was the projects. Poorest of the poor. One step away from homeless. I played with kids that day. I held little girls, played soccer and basketball with the little boys. They laughed, they smiled and when we left...they want back to their poverty ridden homes and back to their every day life. As we walked to deliver food to the people who could not come out to get it we came across a family who had lost their son. The story was on Tuesday (we were there on Saturday) their little boy of 14 was beaten to death for his ipod. As we walk up, most of us with our i-Phone in our pockets, reality is all of a sudden so real. Reality is usually on tv, or the news, but that day it was right in our face. A memorial on the fence outside their apartment. A picture of a boy with the biggest smile I have ever seen. A memorial with flowers, candles and a Bible verse, a Psalm written out in English and Spanish. Some of our team went into the parent's home to talk with them. They later told us the parents, heart broken are praying to God, thanking them for allowing them to be parents for 14 years. As their hearts are broken over the death of their only son, they are finding things to rejoice in, things to still thank God for. Amazing to me.

So, now...I don't feel dumb saying I went on a mission trip to Los Angeles. Now, I know why God sent me there and I am more than thankful that I listened.....more to come...

Our sleeping quarters...

This is hanging at the Angelus Temple in the Kids church...I LOVE IT!

Playing with the kids while we visited the projects of East LA

Little boy, maybe 2. No parents out...they let him go out and around with his older brother....who is maybe 4. Its a different life.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Another Year Coming To An End

My, oh, my...another year is coming to an end. I think December is in like 4 many days does November have? Either way...1 more month of 2010 and I have been a horrible blogger! I began printing our blog each year, well, I printed 2 years last year and I will be printing it again at the end of this year...I wish I would have done better blogging. I feel like I missed so many things to share in print with the kids. Am I a bad mom? I feel like a bad mom. I will most likely go through and post a bazillion pictures and they can just ask me about them when they are older. And when I am much older I will tell them all about them and get names mixed up and tell stories over and over, some that are right and some that I probably will make up in my old little mind and again I will think I am a bad mom, I should have blogged more. At 85, do you think I will remember blogging? Oh, I hope so. Maybe I'll be an 85 year old blogger and my children will still be getting "blog-to-print" books...oh, I can't wait!

Some random pics to share with the kids:

Told ya. Random.