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!

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