One of the first things we did when we got settled was attend a Thursday night service at Angelus Temple near Echo Park. Angelus Temple is the church affiliated with the LA Dream Center. This is the main reason that we chose to move to California to attend seminary versus staying close to home. We really wanted to go somewhere that we could apply what we are learning on a regular basis. What good is an education without application? We immediately felt at home in this ministry, and were determined to get involved as much as possible before school starts. On Saturday, we went to Adopt-A-Block, a ministry that reaches out to thousands of people to ask them one question..."How can I be a help to you?" This one question is answered in many different ways, and with each request, it's important to try to fill the need and build trust with these people.
That afternoon, we went to Back to School Bash at the Dream Center. 2000 backpacks were given away, along with plenty of school supplies, bikes, toys, candy and fun. At the end of the event, we had a divine appointment with Kelli, Kim, and Clint. These folks are our age, and are laboring for Christ in some of the hardest neighborhoods in LA. They invited us to take the kids by bus back to Jordan Downs, and we accepted the invitation. We didn't know what we were getting into. That trip has escalated to a commitment to spend time investing into the lives of the kids and youth of Jordan Downs. We've been back every weekend since, and Brandon has even decided to start a football clinic with some of the guys who love the sport and have potential. What a great way to channel their energy and give them a positive focus. Brandon may be one of the only consistent, positive male role models in their lives, and he takes that responsibility very seriously. The experience has been tiring and tough, because these kids have been so ingrained to hate. They are hardened to loving themselves or others. Everyday, they are exposed to things that kids shouldn't be exposed to. In comparison, our time with them is only minimal. But, we believe that God can use that time to plant seeds of hope and love in them. We may never see the fruit, but His word will not come back void. With consistent love and positive influence, their lives can turn around. They can be a new generation, that doesn't believe the lies Satan tells them that they are doomed to a life of gangs, drugs, prison, and misery. They can be world changers...lovers of God and of people.
We also had a chance that week to serve with the Food Truck Ministry. We drove to a Filipino neighborhood and helped unload, sort, and distribute groceries to about 150 people. It was an awesome feeling to be able to meet physical needs, and build relationships with these precious people. There were a lot of single mothers who came, and it's evident that they really rely on this ministry to make ends meet. We hope to continue to participate in this ministry as well.
Overall, it's been an amazing start to our time here. We came out to Los Angeles believing that God has big plans for our lives, and that this is a training ground for us. We are investing in the dreams of our Pastor, Matthew Barnett. We believe in him, and in what God's doing in and through him.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Wow, so much has happened since we've arrived in Los Angeles! Where do I even start? Well, to begin, let me just say that satan is out to get us. The week after our honeymoon, we were in a pretty bad car wreck and totaled our Camry. Though it wasn't our fault, and the other dude's insurance covered it, we were definitely bummed that our plans to see and say goodbye to everyone were ruined, and we had to spend that time looking for a new (old) car. We finally found one, and of course, God had good plans for us, and our time at our parents' homes were really wonderful. We finally found a 1995 Honda, who we affectionately named "Rhonda". Not 30 minutes after we purchased her, we had her strapped on a tow dolly behind a Penske truck. We loaded our stuff, and the next day were off on the adventure of our lives. The trip was wonderful. We had a chance to spend some time with some dear friends, Shannon and Patrick Jordan in Nashville, TN. Then we made it to Lenexa, KS and got to enjoy the company of my cousins, Jimmy and Debbie, and their family. A few random cities later, we found ourselves staring out over the Grand Canyon, and then made our way to Phoenix to catch a service at Phoenix First Assembly, pastored by Tommy Barnett, a general in God's army. Finally, we made it out here, and settled into our apartment, which is a lot better than we were thinking it would be. It's actually great for us. One bedroom, and plenty of space for the little we have these days. It's going to be a great place to look back one day and say, "Remember our first place. It was small, but we made it a nice home."