Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Project Week 2

Hey everyone, sorry my posts are so few and far between.  Literally everything we do here has a story worth sharing with everyone, but finding time is so difficult. It is super hard to understand the intensity and energy wrapped up into every event we do, but we are learning to rely on Christ to revive our strength, and find rest in him.
Here is a quick example of our schedule!
My job at Tocaloma Day Camp in Beverly Hills runs Monday- Friday from 8am-4pm.  I am a counselor for a group of 6 year old girls, and I bring them aroung to all of their many activites throughout the day.  This past week, all of my girls were still in school, so I doubled as a sports specialist, seeing all different groups of kids and running around playing with them. So tiring!
On Monday nights, we have weekly meetings at our church, which are just like Cru weekly meetings at home.  Tuesdays are Action Group nights, where we meet up with our action group after dinner, have a Bible study, and then go sharing. Wednesdays are Date Night With Jesus, where we pick up our dinner in a paper bag, get a packet to go through, and find somewhere in Santa Monica to spend 3 hours of time alone in the word. Thursday is called Teach and Go, because we eat dinner, learn about a new method for evangelism, and then go out sharing.  Fridays are free! yaaay! Saturdays are also free until dinner, and then we have a social after, like a scavenger hunt throughout santa monica (my team won because I ruthlessly forced them all to run, against their wills!) or dodgeball and donuts.  On Sundays we go to church, have lunch and a meeting, and then go sharing.  It's super packed, and every event is really intense, so it is all very draining. But I am so blessed to be here, and I am enjoying the community more and more everyday!

This week was packed with memorable conversations with people.  First, on Sunday, I went out with two girls. We ended up finding a middle-aged man relaxing by the beach and began getting to know him.  He was slow to open up, but within half an hour, he was telling me about his divorce in process, looking for jobs while currently unemployed, and finally accepting his disease of depression.  At one point, he even said he knows that all that is missing from his life is God.  This moment was so surreal for me, and he never came to salvation that day, but he looked over cards we had entitled "the skeptics prayer" and "the believer's prayer," which basically are prayers of salvation, and he said he agreed with most of both of them.  He said he may come to church with us this Sunday, so please be praying for that! While all of this was going on, one of the girls got to talking with a homeless man who actually approached us.  We ended up taking him out to lunch and talking with him for a while, and he also poured out his whole heart.  It is still sooo crazy to me how open people are!
On Tuesday night, we were all beyond exhausted, and were dreading going sharing. We even wanted to skip it and just have our Bible study, so we went to a Starbucks on the promenade. Surprise, God had other plans! While I was sitting waiting for everyone, a man just plopped himself down in the chair next to me and started telling me all about his life. Literally. I never asked a single question! He got up and left just as abruptly, but it was enough to change my attitude for the evening.  About halfway through our study that night on sanctification, another lady came over and helped herself to the empty chair next to me.  She was reading something, so we just continued talking. We didn't speak to her until I was saying goodbye to her, during which she began talking to us.  We ended up staying for almost another hour, and she was telling us how excited she was that young women were meeting and having fellowship and spending time in God's word.  She ended up telling us she was a producer, and my roommate Alexa, who is studying communications in the entertainment industry, asked her what it is like being a Christian in the industry.  It ended up being a special night for Alexa, as the random woman was affirming all of the things Alexa has been so scared of.  She said she could tell that Alexa has a special "aura" and a talent for leadership and standing strong in her faith, and that she thinks the entertainment industry needs a young woman like that.  She also told us about some of the top secret projects she has in the works.  They exchanged contact information, and promised to meet up and continue talking.  Also while all this was going on, a young man approached us and noticed that we were having a Bible study.  He ended up being a strong Christian looking for a church in Santa Monica, so we invited him to our sunday and monday night services, and he promised to come.  By the end of the night, we were all so energized and refreshed and happy and in awe of God's plan.  I have basically given up on trying to guess what He has in store!
Soooo much more has happened, and we have already had four salvations this summer! Apparently this is a huge number for Santa Monica Summer Project, because last year saw two salvations all summer.  We are not focused on the numbers, but it sure is encouraging! Please keep us all in your prayers, as it gets a little overwhelming realizing we still have six more weeks of this! Love y'all!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Start of Santa Monica!

Hello friends! I finally arrived here in Santa Monica on Thursday!

We have been super busy all day everyday, but it has been great!
The first day, a group of friends and I walked down to the beach (typical) and explored, then had a meal with everyone.  We all stood up and talked about what we were most excited about (besides sharing our faith, etc) and of course I said running on the beach! We spent the night getting to know our action groups (the people in our rooms and the people we have bible studies with ) and getting situated.  The next day, I woke up  super early and got to go running with about 4 other girls on project.  None of them were runners, and we went suuuuuper slow.  I was looking forward to that feeling of going as fast as you can go, coming home completely winded, and feeling proud of yourself. Didn't quite happen.   I decided to run the mile and a half (completely uphill) back to our motel with the slowest girl in the group who didn't think she would ever be able to make it back.  I loved being able to just talk her through it, and hold her accountable for not walking, and seeing how utterly amazed and proud of herself she was upon completing three miles on her FIRST time running. ahhh! I have been doing this for the past four days now, and honestly love it.  Every night, the girls run up to me and say "what time are we going tomorrow?! I invited a friend too!" It's something a tonnnn of people have come to look forward to, and it is beginning to be a big part of my project. Check us out on the third day, our group has already grown so much!

Today was the fourth day a lot of the girls have gone, and they all excitedly came up to me, telling me how easy it is for them, and how quickly they improved on their running, and how stoked they were to keep improving.  In a way, this is sort of a synopsis of what Summer Project should be! First, comes the awkward coaxing of people to come running with me in the morning.  There are people who say no right off the bat, and that they hate running and will never ever change their minds.  Then, there are people who are slightly open to the idea, and who might come if you explain to them that we will be going slow, and relieve their anxieties.  Finally, there will always be people who have been dying to go running, but they just don't want to go alone, and they have been waiting their whole lives for someone to ask.   After all this, I am teaching people to fall in love with something that has completely changed my life, and that I have overflowing passion for.  If I am excited about going running, it is contagious and infects other people like wildfire.  Tomorrow we have about four different scheduled groups going running, because everyone is bringing their friends, and nobody wants to miss a day! Even though right now, we may be at a pace slower than what I am used to, I am fully confident that this ministry is blessing me.  I am now already so close to these girls, and as a bonus, we get to see the beautiful beach and say good morning to about 20 people on the streets, even before anyone else on Project has even woken up. So nice!

Okay, so other than running, we have been suuupes busy.  We went out sharing on just the second day! I was the only one in my action group who had never been before, so I went with my leader and one girl from my room. It was super nerve racking at the beginning, when you have no idea what to expect, or you expect the worse.  But God is so much greater than your expectations! We had so many great conversations, just on the first day.  Our assignment was to "decode" Santa Monica, to get a feeling for the mindsets and attitudes that we will be faced with this summer.  We simply had to approach people, build a repertoire and begin asking them four questions: What do you think is our purpose? What is wrong with the world? What is the solution? How can you and I contribute to the solution? It sounds difficult and scary, but I really would encourage you to ask your family, co-workers, or even complete strangers these same questions.  Most people will be slightly taken aback, but if you approach them in the right way and make them comfortable, most people will start off slow, then before they know it wil be talking to you for ten minutes just about the first question.  So awesome! Many people have never thought about these before, and most people are just surprised and glad that someone is willing to listen to their answers and love on them no matter what.  Some specific people you can be praying for:
Benjamin- a man we met on our first day.  He said he was definitely spiritual and had hope for the future, and then later in the conversation he revealed he was a practicing Satanist.
Sam- A man we met on our second day! I went out with only one of my roommates, and was nervous to be without a leader.  He was the firs tguy we appraoched, and was at first hesitant to speak with us.  He was close to our age, and we ended up having such a solid conversation.  He had a great opinion on the questions we asked, and considered himself to be a spiritual person, but was wary of religions.  He was on his break, and wanted us to come back that night when he was done. But we exchanged emails, and we felt so encouraged by his conversation.  We really would love to keep a relationship going with him throughout the summer, and answer more of his questions, or get him connected with some of the awesome men in our group.
Ezekiel- I was out with the same roommate on our third day of sharing.  By this time, we had been going for three days straight and were mentally and physically sooo exhausted.   We got rejected by eight people right off the bat, and were walking back to our church to be done for the day.  I was just so completely discouraged, and we had tried praying sooo much already.  But we spotted Ezekiel, who was a street performer, taking a break.  He was definitely open to talk to us, and we continued for about half an hour.  He definitely said right off the bat that he agrees in a creator, based off of the perfect universe around him, and the perfect cells inside his body. He had no problem continuing on, and when we asked if he thoguht this being was someone he could know personally, he said no, and that he didn't think the creator would want to know him either. After a while, my friend Julialynn ended up sharing the gospel with him! He said he definitely agreed with and disagreed with things that we said, but he loved talking to us.  We left our brochure, Knowing God Personally, with him, and he said he would love to read it.  We had to leave,but still were excited about this convo.
 Our view from the third day sharing!

Other than this, we had our first day of training at Tocaloma Day Camp.  There is fourteen of us from Summer Project working there, and Tocaloma had about 96 staff, so we definitely make such an impact.  After spending time with our co-workers, we could see that they were open and friendly and accepting, but definitely not walking with the Lord.  We know this is such a ripe missions field for us and are totally stoked to start working! Also, I found out I will be a counselor for 6 year olds! Soooooo excited.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support! I am having soooo much fun, but I also have never been so exhausted in my life! I never thought I would hit a wall on the thrid day, but it just shows you how intensive everything is here.  I have loved getting to know all of the other students, and it is such an encouraging environment.  Everyone wants to be your friend, and help you out in any ways possible.  I have never really been part of a group that is allll so on fire for the Lord. It's eye-opening. The best part is that we all still have so many flaws and stumble in our walks.  We had a time called "soul to soul" with our action groups, where we kind of shared our life stories and testimonies.  All of us had huge periods of our life when we had fallen from seeking God.  But he never stopped waiting for us, and he faithfully brought us closer to him through everything.  One of my favorite parts of project is hanging out at the Promised Land.  It's just an area of couches in our motel, and you can just go sit there when all of the activities for the day are done, and tons of people will come join you right away.  Within minutes, people just start opening up about their lives.  It is such an awesome environment, that many people will never experience. 

Keep us all in your prayers! Feel free to contact me whenever!

Monday, June 6, 2011


Woo! Tonight I officially received 100% of my support! (Thanks Logan) This $2800 covers our housing and some of our meals for the two months in Santa Monica! Thank you soooo much to all of you who made this happen, I am praying that I can be a good steward of your time and money, and I know God will use it to the fullest!

When everyone has been asking me if I am excited yet, I keep on saying it doesn't feel like I am going. Some of my friends are dying to get out of their houses, and I guess I have just been enjoying my month here at home.  I am completely stoked, yes, and I can't believe that I have this amazing opportunity.  I think this just reflects another aspect of what great support I have here at home.  Some of my teammates' parents are unsupportive of their trips, and some othershave been spending the past month with almost no friends. I'm trying to plan out my last two days here, and there is so many names of friends that I want to make sure I see before I leave! This just makes me realizehow much I love everyone here, and my year away at school just made us closer.  Sometimes I feel guilty for always leaving my friends, but I know God has greater things planned for me.

Ahh, packing! My next obstacle! Packing and cleaning are both kind of therapeutic for me, so I'm not dreading it at all. I just always get a weird feeling whenever I pack for a long time.  Packing up and leaving has become my new favorite thing over the past year.  Packing up and going to college seemed soooooooooooooooo dramatic and sad and life-changing to me just ten months ago. Throughout that time, I learned how to pack a tiny tiny bag for visits home, pack for a vacation in -24 weather, got addicted to reading a blog about these two girls I met called Packing Light that describes their 50 state road trip, aaaand I finally packed everything in my room up (in three hours!) and brought it all home.  All the frequent moving back and forth this year has put me in a completely different mindset than this time last year.  I feel so much more detached to my material things than I ever have before.  Out of my fam, I've pretty much grown to be the neatfreak, and I can throw away stuff much easier than anyone else (case in point: my little brother just paid me $100 to clean his room! :) )/ But I feel like this year has jsut helped me out so much more! I was talking to my friend about how I am going to be calling three different cities "home" this year. Weird! Exciting! The truth is, none of those places are going to contain allll of the things I own. Which is great! Every time I pack, I feel like I get rid of way more stuff. Seriously, try it sometime.  Anyways, I'm going to have to make each place homey, with less and less of my personal belongings in each location.  And the truth is, after lugging your stuff back and forth and throughout different states, you start to realize what is absolutely necessary, and what is just taking up space. It's weird, this is a lesson I've been learning in so many areas of my life.  Ask God to help you figure out what is cluttering your life, in your possessions, your friendships, and your time, especially. 

So, anyways, this is just a completely disjointed post, summing up some of my final thoughts before my trip! I am sooo excited to be doing what I am doing. I mean, I am 19. I want to be packing up and leaving as much as I possibly can! God has instilled a deep longing for adventure in me throughtout the past year, and I pray that I can pursue not only my desires for fun and freedom and enjoying my youth, but that His work would always be my main focus throughout everything!

So, gracias to everyone who has contributed prayerfully and financially! If you still wanted to, we of course are going to need things like gas for transportation, and many of my teammates still have sizeable amounts of support to raise. So contact me! I hope everyone has a  life-changing summer, no matter where you are!
See you in Santa Monica!