Monday, February 18, 2013


    I'm in Redding now! My time in San Francisco was so good! On my last day out, I got to say goodbye to all my friends, and I was pleasantly surprised because I even got to see Randolph again! He moved to another park, but didn't like it, so he came back on my last day. It was so good to get to see him again!
    One thing that was exciting and unique about my time in San Francisco was I gave my first haircut ever! It was so fun! Keith's hair was pretty long and he needed a haircut, so he asked me to do it for him. I told him I'd never cut anyone's hair before, but he said that would make it fun. So the next day I brought some scissors and cut his hair! It actually looked pretty good for my first one! So now I can add hair styling to my list of things I have to offer my homeless friends!
    This is me and Francisco! I saw Francisco every day, but we didn't really have a good talk until my last day. He actually had a home and lived with his family, but they kicked him out pretty recently because of his drinking habits. It was fun talking with him, and he gave me a mini Spanish lesson (even though I forgot it all already) but it was a blast!
   So yeah, I absolutely loved my time in San Francisco! It was so great, so fun, and I met so many awesome people! Now I'm in Redding, and I am soaking up my time at Bethel! It's been so good so far and I'm really excited about the week!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just Listen

     I had another great day! I didn't get to see Cricket again and all her stuff was gone today, so I think she must have moved on to another place. Maybe I'll still get to see her again before the week is over!
     But I did get to talk to Randolph again today, and he was doing so well! It was great to see him so encouraged! He got an address so he can move forward with getting his social security. He's moving out of that park today, too, so I might not get to see him again. But I loved that I got to leave him on a good note, seeing him doing so well and having such a positive attitude! He talked to me about his plans for this summer. He wants to get out of the city and go camp in the mountains instead of the streets. I think that will be so good for him! Randolph is such a great guy! He talked about how he's come out of a destructive lifestyle and he's a Christian and he wants to live a better, healthier lifestyle and not go back to that stuff. I know Randolph is going to be okay, I know there's no reason to worry about him!
    I also got to talk to Keith for a long time today! I had met him once before, but we hadn't really talked that much. But today we talked a lot! Keith had so much anger and frustration built up. He talked a lot about how much has been stolen from him and how much corruption he sees around him. He was just so angry, and like a lot of people I've met, after ranting for a while he brought up something about his family background. That happens with so many people that I meet. They have all this rage against everything and everyone around them that seems to be coming out of nowhere, but then it comes out that they're still holding onto pain from their childhood and being mistreated or rejected by their family. Family issues seems to be a huge common denominator for so many of the people I meet on the streets. Sadly, so is having issues with corruption in the church. But I kind of just sat there and listened to all Keith had to say. I felt like God was saying to me that that was enough, I didn't need to feel pressured to have any answers for anything he said. So I just listened to everything he had to say about everything. After a while he kind of got a little calmed down. He said that talking to me helped, and sometimes you just need somebody to listen, so you can get it all out so you don't explode. I'm glad I got to be that for Keith today. I mean really, a lot of these guys don't have anyone they can really talk to, either because they have to be tough around the people they're with or because the people they're with are struggling enough on their own and don't want to talk about anyone else's problems. So I was glad Keith got to get some of that out today, I could tell how desperate he was to have someone he could talk to that would just listen to him. Keith is one of the people I've met that most obviously desperately needed the peace of Christ. When I was about to go out, I asked Keith if I could pray with him before I left, and he said yes. It was one of the most amazing prayer times. I started praying and I just said to God, "I'm not going to try to think of what to say, You just let me pray over Keith whatever he needs and let me say whatever he needs to hear." So it was so cool to just get to pray the peace and joy of the presence of God over Keith. It was beautiful, and after the prayer Keith's demeanor was changed. I absolutely love that when Holy Spirit makes a visible change in someone just in a few seconds of prayer. After we prayed, we hung out and talked for a little while longer. And he gave me a hat, which was really sweet! When I was leaving, he said, "Thanks for the prayer. It was good, I felt it." That was so awesome! I love Holy Spirit!
  This is me and Keith! I love him, he's so awesome!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stay Sweet!

     It was another great day in San Francisco! Sadly I didn't get to see Cricket today, but her stuff was still there, so I'm hoping I'll get to see her tomorrow! I saw a lot of other familiar faces, which I always love! One guy that I saw that I met yesterday was Randolf. He actually just got in town last Friday and he's having some trouble in San Francisco. Once you're homeless and you lose your identification and social security, it can be really hard to recover. He's trying to get his social security, but in order to do so, he has to have a mailing address, which he doesn't have because he's homeless. In a lot of cities, homeless ministries will have P.O. boxes that the homeless can use for purposes like this, but San Francisco's homeless ministries seem to only do that for residents. It's kind of a vicious cycle and makes it really hard for homeless that are trying to get jobs or homes to do so. It can be very discouraging for people who are trying to improve their situations.
     I met a new friend today named Earnest. He's really new to living outdoors, too. He's also really trying to get back into a home, because it's been really rough for him so far; getting jumped, robbed, and not being able to find work. Earnest was a really sweet and open guy and it was fun getting to talk and pray with him and offer him some hope and encouragement. Something I thought was kind of funny is a lot of the people in San Francisco, when I'm leaving them, say, "Stay sweet!" I don't know if that's a San Francisco thing or what, but I like it!
     I meet so many people that totally break the mold of the stereotypical homeless person, and I love that! It just proves that we're all just people, despite the fact that society dehumanizes the homeless. People living on the streets are people. They're people with stories, interests, personalities, and a lot of them with high educations and a lot of job experience. I just love getting to hang out with them all the time! I meet so many beautiful, open, warm people!
    Go love on some people, and stay sweet!

Monday, February 11, 2013

San Francisco!

    I got to San Francisco Friday night! That morning before I left Los Angeles I stopped by skid row to say goodbye to all my friends! Sadly, Latoya and Chocolate weren't there so I didn't get to say goodbye to them, but I had fun hanging out with Gary Lewis and Herbert one last time before I left! And the drive up the 101 was absolutely beautiful!
Here's me and Herbert, my fellow Memphian!

    San Francisco has been great so far! I'm really excited because today I found my San Francisco niche! In some cities I find my niche the first day, but sometimes it takes me a bit longer. But today I found my San Francisco home, and I'm so excited about it! And once again, I just "happened upon" this park when I had given up on my searches and just started driving around aimlessly. I think God just really wants to prove to me that I don't need to try to plan things. When I just let go, He shows me what He wants me to do. Even as I'm writing this, He's making that more of a reality in my heart, showing me that I don't need to worry at all about anything in the future. I just need to stay in the peace of God, knowing that all things work together for my good, because I love Him. He's a good dad.
    So I met a lot of people at my San Francisco home today, but the person I talked to most was a lady that goes by Cricket or Morning Star (I call her Cricket). She told me a lot of her story and a lot about the things that she believes. I'm really glad I got to meet Cricket and I'm looking forward to getting to spend more time with her while I'm here! She's been through so much, having a terrible young home life, being put through foster care that misrepresented who God is, and she became homeless when she was only 12 years old. Because of the way was treated at home, she likes her life outside and feels constricted even staying a few nights in a tent. She's been through so, so much. Her mother was wiccan and she has been also her whole life. She talked about how she doesn't do bad spells on people though, and she was really into love and peace. I want her to experience real love and peace! Wicca, New Age, and Buddhism/meditation/enlightenment are all such counterfeits of the power, freedom, and peace that God has to offer. I love meeting people like that, because I know what they're searching for! I used to be searching for it, too, but I've found the real thing! I feel like those people are so ready for the Holy Spirit. Cricket does have a lot of strange beliefs. She talked a lot about reincarnation and her past lives, who she believes she is, and what she thinks is going to happen in her life. I know that no amount of arguing is going to change the way Cricket thinks, so all I know to do is listen to her, love her, and try to show her who Jesus really is. I got to pray with her, which was so good. It was so awesome, because God knows what Cricket needs. I love that we get to just take everything to God, because He knows what to do so much better than I do. Yeah, that time of prayer with Cricket was so beautiful and so full of peace. And I love the freedom that we have in God. I love the assurance we have that God is so much more powerful than anything else out there. God loves His children that fall into witchcraft. And He wants them to know that. So it was so cool to be able to sit with a wiccan and not have any fear or judgement in my heart. I didn't want to hide from her, I didn't want to argue with her, I just wanted to love her and I just want her to understand truth and who God is. 
     So I'm just trusting God for huge things during my time in San Francisco! He is so good, so faithful, and so able! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Skid Row Sweeties!

     I leave Los Angeles tomorrow! I've loved meeting the beautiful people of skid row and getting to know them all! I will miss the people! It's a tough city to be in because it seems that almost everyone here is hurting in a visible way, whether they're aware or not. But it's been a good week! One thing I really love about the people that I meet out is how protective they are! They always make sure to tell me to be careful, and that nobody's gonna mess with me while they're around. It's just sweet and makes me happy! I love them! Another stragne thing about my time in LA is how everyone warned me about how careful I need to be on skid row, but really, I was more comfortable there than I was in the rest of the city. Not in terms of safety, but I just was happier there and would rather be with them then just on my own exploring the city. They're awesome, welcoming people. In a city that seems so attractive to outsiders, the people of skid row were by far the high light of my week.
     This is me and Lamar! Lamar was so funny and loved to talk! We talked a lot about school and interests. He was really sweet and funny

This is me with Gary Lewis! Gary is hilarious! He's very opinionated, which always makes me laugh. And he loves feeding the pigeons! It sounds strange, but it's really easy to bond with people when you're pigeon watching. Maybe that's just me hahah.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


    Love is so much more powerful than I think we'll ever fully understand, at least on earth, but lately I've been realizing my need to understand it more. Love is the greatest commandment. It never fails. Without it, we're just a clanging symbol. Love is what changes us. God IS love.
    Today I got to see a little glimpse of the power of God's love. I met one lady named Laquana on skid row. I talked to her for a little bit, then kept walking down the street. When I passed her again on my way back, there were tears running down her face and she said she really liked the message on the sandwich bags. They don't say much, just, "You're amazing and God loves you so much! 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." But being told God loves you is that touching. We just looked into each other's eyes and she cried and I prayed for her and held her for a few seconds. It was one of those moments that can't be fully expressed in words. I just know that I've barely scratched the surface of understanding God's love, and I need to know Him more. I need to be so emptied of myself that all that's in me is God's love. And all that can flow out of me is God's love.
     I love how on this trip full of new places, experiences, and faces, I get the joy of finding familiarity in the people that I get to see regularly in each city. Those people in LA have been Latoya, Chocolate, Herbert (who's actually from Memphis!), and Deborah! I'm always excited to see them when I'm heading out for the day. Deborah is such a sweetie! I love the way we bring each other joy! Today when I told her I love her, she said, "I love you more!" Deborah is so awesome, it's going to be sad when I have to say goodbye to her!
Me and Deborah

Monday, February 4, 2013

Los Angeles!

     I got to Los Angeles Friday night and my time here so far has been great! It's definitely been different from most other cities. My hosts live in a loft in the middle of downtown, so rather than driving into the cities each morning, I get to just walk out the door! It's pretty convenient, too, because they live pretty close to LA's skid row, which has the densest homeless population in the nation. Down these streets, there are rows of tents and camps along the sidewalks. The homes of the homeless.
    One thing that kind of blows my mind is the juxtaposition of Los Angeles. It has never made much sense to me how on the same planet there can be starving people living in mud huts and people with excess living in million dollar mansions. I thought such a contrast at least had the separation of a country or at least a few cities, but both lifestyles seem to exist right in the middle of LA. In the middle of a city full of actors and wealthy business men, there are also people whose lifestyles are almost like those of people living in third world countries. Down skid row, people are sleeping on the sidewalks on mats, in tents, or under tarps. Some of them have buckets that they go to the bathroom in and then empty out into the street. Some of them just use the bathroom right on the sidewalk without any cover.  And this is in a city where movies are made that make millions of dollars in the box office.
      Walking down skid row hasn't been as scary as I thought it would be after hearing people talk about it. Maybe that's just because my gauge for fear has kind of changed since starting this journey. But the first few people I met walking into skid row were really nice and welcoming. I had been told to expect them to be very territorial, so I tried to be really cautious of overstepping boundaries, but they really were welcoming and receptive! Probably the most outgoing person I've met here so far is a girl named Chocolate. She stays on the very edge of skid row, so it's almost like she's the welcome committee! She's very friendly and open to talking about the area and her situation. I first met her on Saturday, and when I went to her area yesterday one of her neighbors, Latoya, told me that she went to jail after I left. I was concerned for her at first, but by the time I passed by her area when heading home, she was back to her spot talking and goofing around like she didn't have a care in the world. She said she got arrested for being mouthy to a police officer, so she knew she wouldn't be in long. I'm glad she got out soon, because I was looking forward to see her again!
     Yesterday walking down skid row, I got further than I had the day before. Everyone I encountered was really nice! I got to see Latoya and Chocolate again, but some new friends I made were Deborah and Mr. Harris. Deborah was such a sweetheart! I prayed for her and she prayed for me and we just got to talk for a while.  I also got to know Mr. Harris, who was so funny! When I offered him a Bible he got really excited and picked one out. As soon as it was in his hands, he opened it up and started reading it to me. It was so awesome how excited he was!

Here's me and Mr. Harris with his Bible in hand!

     Even though my time in Los Angeles has been great and I've met so many amazing people already, there also have been some hard things. Seeing some of the mentally disabled homeless sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk is hard. Talking to one woman about some of the awful, horrific things that happen to her living on the streets was really hard. Sometimes when I see or hear things like that, I feel like I can't handle it. Sometimes I feel like it's too much. But I just have to give it up to God, because I'm not called to bear this burden on my own. I'm not able bear this burden on my own. If I didn't have  my strength in God, I probably would have thrown in the towel long ago, feeling way to helpless and overwhelmed. BUT I do have God. I do have His endless strength, love, and hope. And when things get really hard, He just encourages me that I can't let the pain of some keep me from loving. No matter how many hard things I encounter, I'm not expected to fix it. I'm not able to fix it. All I can do is just keep loving and keep offering the hope I've found in Christ. So that's what I'll keep doing! No matter how easy and fun or heavy and hard this journey gets, I rest assured in the fact that God is good, I'm not expected to save but just to keep loving, and I'm not called to carry any yolk or burden other than that of Jesus Christ, and His yolk is easy and his burden is light.