Monday, March 18, 2013


    I've had an awesome time in Albuquerque so far! In comparison to some of the other cities I've been  to, the amount of homeless people isn't huge, but they aren't too hard to find! And I've loved the people I've met so far!
    Before I go on with Albuquerque, I'll talk about my stop at the Grand Canyon! It was my first time seeing the Grand Canyon and I am obsessed! It's so beautiful! It just blows my mind how God does all this stuff that He doesn't have to do. He didn't have to make the world beautiful; it could have been plain and boring and still completely functional. But He made it beautiful. And a ton of the ways that He blesses us, we would be okay without, but He chooses to bless us anyway. Just because He loves us so much and loves blessing His kids. It blows my mind!
Here's me at the Grand Canyon! I could have stayed there forever!

   Back to Albuquerque. My first day out, the guy I talked to longest was Alex. He's quite the character!   He's pretty easy to find, too because he always has on a cowboy hat and a bright green bandanna around his neck. By the way, an interesting fun fact I learned from him was that a bandanna tied around your neck is a sign of train hoppers- and different colors mean different things. That made me laugh because I have a scarf that's kind of like an over-sized bandanna that I tie around my neck that way. I always thought train hopping would be fun, maybe it's in my blood! (Just kidding, mom!) But now I'll always think of my train hopping friends when I wear that! Anyway, Alex kind of peaked my interest because he's young- only 20. Whenever I see young kids out, I want to hear their story because usually I only see older homeless people. For most older people, they have a story of losing their job for different reasons and that's how they ended up where they are. But for young kids, it's always different. Some times the kids got kicked out, a lot of times they're just looking for adventure, but most of the time there's a common denominator of a not so awesome family background. A tough family background is actually a huge common denominator in the older homeless people, too. It makes me think of Randy's story about when he was a kid, he lived in an agricultural area. He remembers watching a farmer walk out to his fields, pick up some of the dirt, rub it in his hands, and sniffing it before he would plant anything. He would do that all the time. Randy said when he was younger, he didn't really know why the guy always did that with the dirt, but now he knows that he was making sure that the soil was good. Because his seeds were precious and he didn't want to put them in bad soil.   He compared that to having children. How kids are seeds and they're precious. And they need a good environment to grow up in. It's so true- so many of the people I meet when explaining their situations, start with the issues of their childhood. Pretty much all of their issues start there. It just proves how impressionable kids are and how important it is to provide them with a nurturing environment. Even though that's all true, I'm so glad that through Jesus, we no longer have to be defined by our childhood or family issues. Because we start fresh, adopted into a new family- the Kingdom. And we have a perfect, loving, ever-present, all- knowing, all-powerful, full of mercy, full of joy, quick to forgive Daddy who's love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out. And He totally fills any voids that were left from a not great childhood! It's so awesome to me that family issues don't have to have any affect on us at all, because we're new creations, adopted into a new family, with a perfect Father who fulfills every need and satisfies every desire.
     But talking to Alex was really fun! He talked to me a little bit about how he got where he is and what he wants to do in the future. One thing he said that it wouldn't hurt all rebellious teenagers to hear was how one of his friends said to him, "I wish I could be more like you, just take off and not have to deal with my family anymore." And Alex said, "Don't you ever say that! Your family's all you got!" And he talked about how at first, he just wanted freedom, but now he's realizing he misses his family. But Alex reminded me a lot of my old self. He talked about how all he wanted out of life was to be free. All he wants is to have fun and have freedom. I know now that true freedom is only found where the Spirit of the Lord is. You can say that all day, or hear that all day, and just shrug it off- until you experience it. Truly experiencing God changes everything!
    Yesterday I got to hang out with some Navajos! I met Eldon, Sophia, and Carlos at a park. They were really sweet, funny people! Except for when they were making fun of me for saying, "Yay!" too much haha. I can't help it, I get excited! Eldon and Carlos were just funny, but Sophia was more open to talking about her past and her issues. Sophia is so, so sweet. She grew up living on the reservation with her grandma and aunt, but when she was really young, there were Mormons who preached door to door on the reservation, and she went into one of their foster programs. Through some bad situations with her job and husband, she turned to alcohol to cope and now she's living on the streets. She's had a lot of hardships in her life, but she does trust in God and she says she prays to him for help and He gets her through. I just love Natives so much, and I know God loves them even more than I can understand! And it's so awesome how both Eldon and Sophia talked about God and their faith in Him.
    I only have a couple more days here in Albuquerque! I love the people here, but it's also really evident how much Albuquerque needs light. Even Alex talked about how New Mexico isn't called "the land of enchantment" for no reason. And he said it's not "good" enchantment either, it's dark here. People are just searching for freedom and power, but settling for a dark counterfeit, when there's a freedom and power that brings life! Let's all pray for God's true, life bringing power and freedom to break through all over New Mexico!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Everything bright and beautiful

   The past few days have been amazing! I've had so much fun getting to know some of the people of Las Vegas!
   Two guys I met yesterday were Randy and Dustin. I talked to them for like three hours! They had the best, funniest personalities and they were both so full of stories. Randy's usually had some point to them or gave wisdom, but Dustin's were always just to get a laugh. They also both had really interesting stories of how they became homeless. Randy's story sounded like it came straight out of a movie- it actually reminded me a lot of The Outsiders! And he's doing a good job staying gold:) But he talked a lot about how much the environment a child grows up in impacts their entire life direction. When he was a kid, his dad was a violent alcoholic and a pool shark. Growing up, his job was to watch his dad play pool and get his dad a beer whenever he was asked. So naturally, he grew up to be a pool shark, too, which led to an incident in a pool hall that landed him in jail. But Randy is so positive and his faith is amazing. He chooses to make the best out of any situation he's in, and he loves to try to help other's through telling them of the lessons that he's learned through his life. Both Randy and Dustin talked about the way that trials make you stronger, and if you don't give up, you'll come out on the other end a better person. Randy also had some crazy stories about the way God evidently has His hand in his life.
     He had one story where God intervened and totally protected him from doing something that would have changed the whole direction of his life. When he was in jail, there was a guy in the cell next to him that he was having troubles with, so he made himself a shank and decided on killing the guy. This was on January 19, 1994. He planned on killing the guy the next morning, so after he made the shank that night, he said to God, "Now Lord, I'm set on killing this guy. So if you want to stop me, you gotta do something about it, cuz I'm gonna kill him."  Across from his cell were some vents that led outside. So he went to sleep that night planning on killing the guy the next morning when they let them out of their cells. He said that night a calm came over him and he slept like a baby. The next morning, he woke up to the guards telling him he had to get out of there or he'd freeze to death. It was -27 degrees outside and the cold air had come in through the vents. So they moved him to another cell, away from the cell of the guy that he wanted to kill, in an area that they wouldn't have to interact anymore. That night was the coldest recorded night in Indianapolis. He said, "The Lord dropped the temperature 100 degrees so I wouldn't kill that guy." I just Googled it, and he was right! January 19, 1994 really was the coldest recorded temperature in Indianapolis! Randy's prayer set a record! How cool is it that he told God he was going to have to step in if He didn't want him to kill that guy, and God dropped the temperature to a record low so that he would be moved to a cell and wouldn't have to interact with that guy anymore? That's some divine intervention for ya! If he had killed that guy, he would have had to spend the rest of his life in jail. But he said that prayer, and God answered and did something to stop him, and now Randy's out, talking to people about Jesus!
    Randy and Dustin talked a lot about the way they just know God's going to take care of them. They say, "He hasn't failed me yet!" Homeless people are constantly selling or trading cigarettes, and while I was talking to them, a guy came up and asked if one of them had a cigarette he could buy. They both said yes, but Dustin said, "Randy, let me get this one! You don't need it, if you need money all you gotta do is pray, and you're getting money!" And that led to Randy telling me a story about how through another crazy circumstance, God answered his prayer for twenty bucks to get by.
   I feel like I could write a whole book on what Randy told me just in those three hours, so it's hard to limit to one blog entry, but those are some cool stories he told me!
Here's me with Randy and Dustin! They were so amazing!

     Today I got to hang out with Rick for a long time! He was such a sweet, loving guy!
This is Rick! 

   I met so many great people while in Las Vegas! The park I hung out at was full of a lot of hurting people that cope in different ways, but in spite of that, it was also full of love! As I left today, I got hugs, kisses blown, and lots of "Love you!"s. These people are so beautiful, and I'm so blessed to get to know them! It just shows how loving someone totally changes the way you see them and the way they react to you. I think one of the biggest things that a lot of the homeless people appreciate is the fact that I'm not afraid of them. I'm not scared to just sit in the middle of a park full of drug deals and ex-cons. And I think when people see that you aren't looking at them with judgement or fear, but with love, it changes the way they see you. They no longer see you as a snooty person coming to do their good deed of the day, but they welcome you in as one of their friends that they want to talk to. And I know I don't have to be afraid because I know I have the protection of God AND a park full of people who tell me that nobody's going to mess with me, because anyone causing trouble would have to get them first! I'm so protected, there's no fear in me while I'm out in these parks! But when they see you genuinely love them, they'll usually love you, too. When you show them that you see them as just a person, not as a convict, than they usually act like just a person and not a convict. The way you treat people totally affects the way they act. Love is so powerful!
  And to close, I'll just write a life changing verse I read last night about the way we get to walk out this life: "Not with the grim strength of gritting your teeth, but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful He has for us." So let's all walk out this life with God's glory-strength so we can take part in everything bright and beautiful!

Monday, March 11, 2013


    Yesterday was such an amazing day! The people I met were really open! I was so excited, since the two days before nobody really wanted to talk.
    The first person I met that I got to really talk with was Michelle. She was super sweet and positive. She told me about her two older daughters and how she's pregnant now. She is pregnant with child from getting raped. She told me about how she didn't feel like she could keep the baby due her situation, but she also knew she couldn't abort it, so she's giving it up for adoption. Whenever I meet mothers who chose to keep the baby even though the circumstances are bad, I'm so proud of them and their bravery in not aborting! It's easy to make a pro-life or pro-choice stance when you've never been in the position to make the choice, but I'm sure it's a lot different to actually have to chose. So I think it's so beautiful and brave when women chose not to abort their baby even with the circumstances would make most people tell them that abortion was acceptable and better. It's also really cool, because she actually knows the family that is adopting her baby. There is a woman that comes out to the park that Michelle stays in and she feeds and helps the homeless people out every once in a while. She and her husband had been trying to have a child, but couldn't. So that family is going to adopt Michelle's baby. It's so cool the way God can work bad things into something beautiful. Because of the servant's heart of that woman to help the homeless, she met Michelle. And through meeting Michelle, her and her  husband get the joy of helping a mother and a child by adopting her baby. And Michelle gets the joy of knowing that her baby is going to a good, Christian home like she wanted, and she also will get to see the child. It was just a really cool story, and it was awesome to see the way that Michelle didn't let bad circumstances ruin her life or attitude. She stayed positive and happy and made the best out of everything. Michelle was such a beautiful person!
    Then I got to hang out with Brady! Brady saw me handing out sandwiches and Bibles and asked if he could have a Bible. After we talked for a while, he told me that the past few days he had actually been praying for a Bible. He was an alcoholic, which really go him to where he is now, but he's been sober a few days! And he thought having a Bible would help him stay sober. I'm so glad God provided him with a Bible, and I just pray God brings it to life for him and they become so much more than just words on a page or a method of good living for him. I know Holy Spirit can do that and just keep breathing life into Brady's heart! I got to highlight some of my favorite scriptures in his Bible, too! It was awesome, and as I was leaving, I turned around and saw him already having the Bible opened and reading it. That always makes my heart smile! Brady showed such a determination to get himself to a better place. He's had a few bumps in the road because he lost his id and social security card, which makes it nearly impossible for the homeless to better their situation. Even though he has a lot of obstacles, I can tell by his spirit that Brady isn't going to be homeless forever. I just pray that God gives Brady a deeper understanding of grace. That he really understand that God loves him and hears him right where he is. I'm excited to get to see Brady again today! He talked about how Christians have a "God-shine" and you can tell if a person knows God by just looking at them. And I know God so wants to give him that God-shine that's available to everyone! When Brady really gets who God is and what His heart is like, and when he gets that God wants to live in him and he lets Him, people are going to come to him asking what's making him shine!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Las Vegas

    I'm in Las Vegas! I got here on Thursday night. Yesterday was my first day out, and it was really rainy throughout the day, so it was harder to find people. But today I found a great spot! It is a little area near the highway where homeless are camped out. The people I met today weren't very eager to talk. They were nice, but they seemed pretty closed off to hanging out and talking. I'm hoping that tomorrow when I go back, they'll recognize me and maybe be more open. Either way, I was glad to have helped them!
  Since I don't have too much exciting to write about since I didn't really get to talk in depth with anybody, I'll just write down a prayer I wrote that's kind of a theme of this year, or really my life in general.
    "In the midst of my busyness, may I never lose sight of my desperate need for you.
In my service of others, may I never fall for the illusion that I alone can change their lives.
May I never step out of your Presence as I step into the dark places of the world.
May I never focus more on the corruption, sadness, and sickness I see
Than the One who brings peace, joy, and heals every disease.
You, God, are what this is all about.
So as I'm stopping for the one,
May I never forget the One who stopped for me."
    I've been staying in the awareness lately of how He's really what it's all about. I'm no good without Him, and I'm so lost without Him. I joyfully forfeit my independence to live yolked to Jesus. It's so much better!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Farewell, Fresno!

    My time in Fresno is ending, but it has been so great! I love all of the people I've met, homeless and homed!
    Today when I went out Eric was awake, so I got to hang out with him again! I got to see a lot of other familiar faces, but I haven't seen Melissa or Martha since my second day here.
    One thing God does that I love is the way that when I'm out and I meet a lot of people that are dealing with really dark issues, he always ends the day with people that are full of joy! He never lets me end the day on a sad note! Toward the end of my day today, I was around a lot of people that weren't really doing well. There was one woman, Connie, who deals with a lot of anger issues and mental issues. Then I met a woman who says she is becoming a preacher. She told me that she is trying to help some of the people get off the streets and she takes them to her house to let them eat and shower. All of that sounded great, but then she told me about how she ministers to the homeless by bringing them beer and drinking with them and sometimes giving them weed. I didn't really know what to say, and she really did think what she was doing was best. So I just prayed with her and asked Holy Spirit to guide her in her own life and to bless her in her ministry and show her how she should go about helping the homeless.
    After being around sad and twisted stuff, I went to one area near a bridge and got to hang out with Don, Troy, Condor, Calvin, and Leah! They were such awesome, joyful people! They invited me to play a game with them and we chatted and got to know each others' stories. It was a great end to my time in Fresno!
This is Don, Condor, Troy, and I!

    Another super sweet thing that happened today was when I gave Ben a Bible. It was so beautiful! I could see how hungry he was for God; as soon as I gave it to him, he left the group, sat down, and started reading. I could tell that he had a reverence for it that a lot of people don't. He didn't just treat it like another hand out like a lot do, he really valued it and saw God's word as precious and important. Ben was such a sweetie and I just pray that Holy Spirit brings the Word to life for him and I know God is going to bless his hunger for more. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

A rainbow stick and some colorful people

    Today was such a fun day filled with awesome people! I'm so, so happy to be back in the swing of things after my Bethel break! I went to the same area today that I went to yesterday, but I didn't go down all the same streets.
    I hung out a long time with Eric today, which was such a blast! I met him yesterday, but we didn't get to really talk. Today I got the chance to hang out in his "living room" and talk and have fun with him and some of his friends, Brown and Free Daddy. The three of them were SO funny and had so many stories to tell! Eric was super open, as opposed to a lot of people who tend to be more guarded or territorial, and he let me check out his tents and even take pictures of the inside! He had two tents, one for sleeping and one for just hanging out. Between the two tents was a living room area, which is where we hung out, that has a little fire place made from cinder blocks. The homeless' homes in Fresno are really creative, I've been super impressed! I met a few girls, Melissa and Martha, who live in a homeless home made of tarps and random plywood, that actually has multiple rooms that their friend put together!
This is Sommer, Eric, and I!
This is one of Eric's tents and part of the living room:
This is the inside of that tent:
And this is the inside of his sleeping tent:

It was exciting to get to check out his tents, I felt like I was getting the inside scoop! Eric is such a sweet heart and so open and inviting! Both Free Daddy and Brown talked about how if they ever have anything going on, Eric is always the guy they come to talk to. And I see why! Eric and I talked about some deep stuff, but also some funny stuff! He's hilarious! He had a stick and a sling shot that he had made and painted rainbow to use as protection. The rainbow stick as protection I guess from any unwanted intruders, and the sling shot as protection from squirrels who steal his cookies, which happened the other night! Eric is so awesome! He can make you laugh and make you think, but either way, when you're with him he makes you feel like you're with a friend! '
     Another person I really got to talk to today was Melissa! She was really sweet! She gave me the scoop on the area. We talked for a while and she ended up telling me that she had a college degree and a nursing license. Even though she doesn't work at a hospital anymore, she hasn't stopped nursing! Even while I was there with her, another woman came by to have her check on an injury she had. 
     Today was so fun! I loved getting to spend time in their community today, and I'm excited to head back out tomorrow! God is so good! 


    I'm in Fresno, California now! My time at Bethel was so amazing and refreshing! God showed me so, so much while I was there, I feel like I couldn't even begin to write it all out! But there were just so many good things and revelations during my Bethel visit.
    Bethel was amazing and I felt like I could have stayed even longer, but I am SO happy to be back out! Even though it had only been two weeks, I had missed being on the road, and even more than that I had missed hanging out with my sweet homeless friends! Yesterday was my first day going out in Fresno, and I could tell that my time here is going to be amazing! The area that I went to is a lot like Los Angeles's skid row. There are tents and makeshift homes made of wood and tarps lined up along the sidewalks. Everybody that I talked to yesterday was super nice and thankful, and I'm excited to get to spend more time with them today! I could also tell my time here was going to be good because I ran out of my sandwiches in no time without having to really search for people!
   So yeah, I'm so excited about my time in Fresno, I know it's going to be amazing! And I'm so thankful for the way that God continuously works things out perfectly in ways that I couldn't do on my own!