Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful For Opportunities

2 Timothy 1:7
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Last Wednesday, I worked with the outreach team from PATH. The outreach team goes out in certain parts of LA and find homeless people. So at 8am I arrived at the office with my 2 housemates Josh and Robert which they been a part of outreach team since September. We found out that someone who is a huge supporter of PATH, brought few hundred jackets along with gloves to give away to the homeless.  Her name was Mrs. Getty, I recalled of hearing good things of what she have done for PATH and she was one of the 32 honorees we honored at PATH's gala event this past October.  So we went to a church called Blessing Sacrament where the jackets going to give away. The church gives away free breakfast 4 times a week to the homeless. On Wed, they are normally closed but on the 24th(Last Wednesday), they opened up to give away jackets and food. There was about 120 homeless or more lining up outside the fence waiting to get in. There is a school on the church property and the kids from the school helped out give away jackets as we (outreach team) helped the homeless find their way out of the church as they got their jacket, gloves, and food. Each homeless person that came out of the back door of the church, we greeted them.  Sometime we started a conversation with them. I seen mix emotions of the homeless people's faces as they walked out. Some excited, sad, or frustrated.  Some didn't want the jackets, so they just got the food. There was a friendly cop that was with us and he asked one homeless fella, why didn't you get a jacket? The homeless fella said you will find me too easy. Too big of a jacket!  Ha Ha.  Some were thrilled to get jackets. Some came in with shopping cart filled with trash bags full of stuff or a backpack with stuff tied on the ropes of the backpack. I was introduced to a homeless man who worked for a long long time. PATH did some research on some stuff for him awhile back and ended up getting some benefits for him cause he worked for so long. So this week he will have his own apartment and paid for because the benefits.  God is Good. 

Thursday morning, Thanksgiving day I went to PATH building of Hollywood to take the homeless to Pink Taco for Thanksgiving. When the homeless was lining up, I hand them a waiver paper to sign so we can take pics, etc at this event. If they didn't sign it, they couldn't get on the bus. Over 100 homeless people went to Pink Taco.  Pink Taco was a mexican restaurant.(Not a Taco Bell type)  This was the 2nd time Pink Taco did this for PATH.  It turned out to be great. While I was there, I took pics and talked to most of the homeless there. I listened to their stories. Some of them have said life is gonna get better soon. I know it, they said. They enjoyed the food. There was 2 guys was giving me a hard time for being for the Saints while they were for the Cowboys while we watched the game for little bit.  
They are enjoying the food and the conversation.

People lining up to get back on the bus to head home. 

About 3:30 I came home, and met up with the rest of my housemates and neighbors for thanksgiving. My housemate Alex threw a thanksgiving party for the neighbors from 1pm to whenever. Over 40 people came. I met new and old friends from the neighborhood. 

I made my nanny's peach cobbler for the event.  We had ton of food from church friends and neighbors beside the dishes we made on our own. My parents sent in few boxes of cans and my housemates's families wired in money so we could use it for thanksgiving event for the neighbors.  God is Awesome!

I am thankful for opportunities that God have given me here in LA. He taught me to see things in a new way.  Everybody take things for granted and I know I have. I have seen homeless lived out in the dirty streets where they face no protection from weather, lack of food, lack of friends, lack of shelter, lack of money or job. All they need is a shelter, a job, and food.  We need a cell phone but certain kind of cell phone or grape juice but certain kind of grape juice. We take things for granted in ridiculous ways. Its stupid. Some of you might argue at the fact that we worked hard to get good things and we deserve to have stuff that we can enjoy. Yes but think of this, do we need it to survive?  Are we gonna get to take it to Heaven with us? No.   Does this mean, I am going to get rid of my macbook or my truck or stop using it for awhile? No. But since mid September I started to not take things for granted seriously and I am thankful for God showing me this in a deeper way. In past mission trips where I have seen poverty for a week and felt the effects from their stories. But that tend to wear off after few weeks after the mission trip. Now I am seeing poverty every day and seeing the people out on the street asking for food or money.  I have  better understanding for poverty now and want to find a cure to fix this. Christmas is coming up, we all be at home catching up with families and friends and be warm while there are people who will be sleeping or staring at the traffic while on the street in cold weather. My stomach hurts when I think about that. I wish I can just clap my hands and all the sudden, everybody in the world have a home, food, and families. The reality part is that there gonna be people out in the street no matter what. 

I ask you please to pray for homeless that they find warmth, shelter, food, and love through the holiday season. Pray that the homeless shelter help them start fresh again in their lives. Pray for the people who are volunteering their time to help out at the food banks, homeless shelters, fundraising, and helping the homeless during their holiday free time. Pray for the people who gonna travel during the holiday to their families safely and for the ones staying at home. Pray for my friends who are in other countries doing mission work for a year. 

I am thankful for my parents who raised me in church and taught me that God is first before anybody or anything.  I am thankful for opportunities that God have given me to see his glory shine. I am thankful for my housemates, my director Matthew, Matt's family, my FPH church friends, my prayer partner Brandon and LA friends that I met this year. I am thankful that God still listens. I am thankful whoever made sweet potato pie with pecans for Thanksgiving and its was good.  I hope you guys had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  God bless!   

Monday, November 8, 2010

Listen to the People

Hello friends and family!  

Its been 2 weeks since I typed my last blog.  I have been praying for few days of what I should type on this blog. So here it is. 

On Oct. 28, Me and my housemate Robert was heading to West Hollywood to check out a free movie that I won through a contest. As we were getting there, Robert was telling me about his job with PATH. He is on a outreach team which go out in LA and search for homeless people. What they do is, offer a ride to hospital if they are hurt , offer advices,  give a bag of food, and let the homeless know that there is a shelter called PATH that willing to help them start a 2nd chance at life.  They do alot of thing to help the people. Robert brought up something I never thought about.  A lot of homeless have lost their self esteems or lack of courage to seek a job. Why?  What if you been out on the street for months or years, and people stare at you as they walk by or never talk to you  and just ignore you. You will feel hopeless and think that if I try to get a job, that boss will ignore me just like the people walk by me on the street.   So one of the things the outreach team do is meet the homeless and start a conversation with them. That will help their heart heal and become stronger and realize that not everybody is the same. The outreach team try to see the same homeless person few times every month so that person know that the outreach team haven't forgot about them. So the homeless will gain confidence  and make a effort to get a job. There is some homeless that are lazy, some who can't help that they are in this situation, and some who are trying but not aware of shelters like PATH who willin to help them out.  LA is a big city and its our job not only help the homeless but spread the word about us and what we offer to help the homeless a 2nd chance at life.   As we were getting close to the movie theater, we saw homeless man walked by at a stoplight in West Hollywood. Robert said a lot of homeless people come up to West Hollywood in the morning cause there is churches who give away coupons, gift cards, breakfast sandwiches for free every morning. Then after that, they go back to hollywood or downtown LA.     

A few weeks ago, there been 10 or 15 homeless people living the hills of Hollywood near the Hollywood Bowl.  There are houses on those hills.  There been complaints that the homeless is starting to build fire on the hill. There is trash forts that they build on the hills. Basically, the people with houses on the hills can't get fire insurance because of what the homeless is doing on the hills.   So the sheriff and his team was going to take down the homeless shelters down and force homeless to move or accept help from the PATH's outreach team.  So the outreach team was with sheriff and his team.  The sheriff  team took down shelters and 11 out of 15 homeless seek help from outreach team and they took 11 to PATH shelter and helped them get clean up.   Please check out this article about this homeless situation from my friend Joel who is a CEO of Path.  This will tied in with this story. Just copy and paste. 

The War Against Homeless Sweeps


 My housemates and I have changed the schedule around tutoring and recreation with neighborhood kids about 2 weeks ago.  Instead of all 6 of us being there on Tues., Wed., and Thurs. from 5 to 8.  We ended up doing where 2 of us will have our own afternoon to do tutoring and recreation with kids one day a week.  For example, Me & Robert in charge of Wed afternoon from 5-7:30,  Alex & Brady in charge of Thurs., etc.   My housemates like it that way, I don't care either way. I love being with the kids even if it not my afternoon to be with the kids.  My director told me back in May in the interview chat, that he wanted us to have our own time to rest and do what you like to do for fun because there will be a time where we will get frustrated or fill up with emotions of what we do every day helping the homeless.  I haven't reach that point and I hope I won't.  I love every minutes I have spent with the kids and with people in my office at PATH.  I enjoyed learning from them and hearing their stories.   
God is Amazing!

At PATH, I have finished up adding over 900 names or businesses that donated items/money to PATH into a software program called SAGE.  The program organize the names with addresses, phone #, email, etc.   Its help us and my bosses so when PATH do another project or fundraising event, we have that data where we just sent out emails or letters to the ones who have helped PATH in the past.  I also been working with my media design partner Paul, where we created a few logos for PATH's partners and I come up with ideas to make that logo pop out from colors, texture, sizes, pictures, fonts, 3-D or art.  Its been great learning new stuff from Paul and he have been teaching me how to work with a new program called Firework which design websites.  I normally used dreamweaver or basic HTML to make websites.  I am learning the trade and tools from this job.  Its have been a blessing! This past week, my housemate Brady who work in the same building as I do, his boss Andrew saw me the other day, and told me that he heard that I am the best of what I do in computer stuff. I laughed and said I don't know if I am the best, but I try my best.  He just smiled and said good, I talked to your boss Jeremy and he is okay that I can borrow you for now. So the next day  I had papers of signed names of homeless people who have used our program for showers, meals, phone calls, etc. As I was reading the names and list of things they used at PATH and I was typing at the same time.  There are some people that can't write. There was names that you couldn't even read. Andrew said just come up with best name that you think might fit in the names you can't read. So if you ever writing a letter or signing your name with info for something, write good, not horrible. Sometime someone will have to read all those names and type it into the computer. It will  make that person's eyes little easier to read as they type.  

Let me explain this Doors / Young Adult program require us to do for year.   
- Complete 32 hours a week with agency 
- Start a tutoring /recreation program in afternoons with neighborhood kids. 
- Read over 6 books related to christian stuff  over a year and teach of the 2 books out of 6 to the housemates.
-Be involve in a church every Sunday.
-Do community service with your housemates once a month in the neighborhood. 
I don't have the whole list what Doors require but here is some of the important ones above.

One of the cool things, my director Matthew has done is that we all have a prayer partner that we meet few times a month.  We had a dinner with few possible prayer partners to get to know them about a month ago. Few weeks after that, me and my housemates deicded that Matthew should make a decsion on who is best for who.   Matthew picked Brandon to be my partner and we connected.  He actullay go to Hollywood Pres. so I see him every Sunday. He is carpenter and does frame work and finshes on furniture  and stuff. He have worked for Extreme Home Makeover Edition for 2 years and traveled with them. We have a lot of stuff in common and we shared our testimony last Tuesday afternoon and it was awesome. His wife is from TN and a UT grad so finally somebody I can talk to about UT Vols. lol 

My director Matt had given us a month and half to search for a church. I have checked a few churches. LA Reality, Ecclesia , and Hollywood Pres. Church.  I have prayed and seek advice from my parents and my director Matt. I have decided to go Hollywood Pres. church.   About 2 weeks ago, I knew how the routine schedule was going to be week after week for me.  I have been praying and thinking about being a part of a younger youth group of middle or high school kids. I  had a chance to be in a position of a leader role with youth group at FPC of M'Boro for a year when I was in college. I loved it and enjoyed being with the kids.  I had that feeling in my heart that God wanted me to do that again. So I done few emails and conversations with 3 youth pastors at Hollywood Pres. and did a final meeting with them last Thursday. I will be a part of the youth group as a leadership role helping out the middle and high school kids on Sunday mornings and random events on Friday nights. My pastors want me to try for a month as a trial to be sure that I am not overwhelm as I do have responsibly with Doors program. I am very excited and so are my youth pastors. I have met few kids Sunday morning and started few conversation with what they like to do.   I ask you to pray for me and my communication that the kids will understand me. 
God is Good!

We had our Fall Festival at the community house to welcome families and kids in. We had games set up, paint faces, pose goofy behind a sign as a clown, give-away prizes, art drawings, and fill up plastic glove with popcorn. It went great. I printed 62 flyers out in the neighborhood and came back with 4 left in my hands.  We been planning for this for 2 weeks. It was successfully well done and prepared.  There was more new kids and families that came than the regulars. Which that was great.  Few kids bob for apples!
God is Awesome!
The entrance to the Fall Festival

She won a guitar. Oh yeah, that is my roommate Brady behind her as a banana boy. 

Almost every weekend, Me and my housemate Josh go to a park and play Ultimate Frisbee with friends that we met at the park and other places.  Its had been a blast meeting new people.  Last Saturday, we played for 3 hours.  About a hour before it was over, there was no more players in white t-shirt left to take our spot if we need to catch our breath. So we ran back and forth for hour with no sub. Lol  I had a blast.  Josh's feet hurts so bad, he was limping for the rest of the evening.  
                                            The park where we play Ultimate Frisbee. 

On Halloween night me and few of my housemates and friends went to West Hollywood to a free halloween festival. We saw a lot of crazy costumes. Over 150,000 people was there. The police closed down sunset blvd for few miles for this event.  It was fun but that was my one time experience for me and won't do it again.
                                              Here is us as somebody else for one night.