Saturday, March 26, 2005

It's that time. Time to go blaaaaaaaaaaaaah and let everything swirling around in my head out. I wonder if that's why I have curly hair. Because for as long as I can remember thoughts have spun around in my head-manifesting itself in curls coming out of my head. Whatever.

So yesterday, Good Friday, I went to the Christian bookstore to get a devo book our career group is going to start using. I'm still not sure why I'm in the career group, but anyway, I went there right after my 8am class and on my way to church. So I got there like right on 9:00 and their doors were still locked. Well one of the workers heard me try to open the door and then came and unlocked it, and as I walked in, she said in the most pleasant almost perky tone, "Happy Good Friday!". There is something wrong about that. I mean it's definitely a day to remember, to give thanks for, to praise God for, but I don't really think of saying "Happy Good Friday" like I think of saying "Happy New Year" or "Happy Christmas" (because apparently I'm British today). It's not a holiday that evokes happy memories. Thankful memories, life changing memories, but it's not a family-around-the-table-digging-into-food memory.

I'm really here to process the Dream Center. Better late than never. If I could have done it sooner, I would have. I think it's safe to say it was a trip with the most polar opposites I've ever been on. There were heart breaking moments, and incredibly mind blowing tears-of-joy moments. There were incredibly hard relational moments, and moments where I have never been more honored to be a part of this youth ministry. There were moments where the enemy got inside my head, throwing my thoughts into a tail spin of doubt, and I questioned everything good in my life. There were moments of incredible victory where if we didn't have that bloody vail over our eyes, I'm pretty sure you could have actually seen the hand of God guiding kids to talk to drug addicts on skid row, and his Holy Spirit coming out of their mouths. I almost feel like we lived a life time's worth of experiences in one week.

The most challenging part for me was being a leader. Or more appropriately being a disciplinarian. Seriously, after last week, I hope my husband is much more secure in that area, or that God does a work in me. Part of the difficulty stems from the fact that some of the Seniors are only 3-4 years younger than me and I think I find it hard to relate to them as a person under my authority. It was also only my second trip as a leader so I'm still trying to figure that role out. It's totally different when you're at home and see kids a few times a week at most than when you are with them 24/7 and actually responsible for their life. I don't know, it was just hard. I didn't feel like kids respected me, especially the girls in my room, but I also think I was somewhat cowardly and was too concerned about what they would think of me or if I would push them away.

Nate and I also had a lot of conflicts during the week. Some of them were his fault, and some of them were mine. But we've never really been so short with each other like that. I think on both sides it came from being under a huge amount of pressure, and experiencing such a huge span of emotions and experiences. One night he pretty much yelled at me in front of everyone, and then one of the other leaders a "gray hair" (she could get away with it) yelled at him for yelling at me, and then he and I spent like 30 minutes in the parking lot of a Starbucks working it out while everyone was in Starbucks. I later found out everyone was in Starbucks watching us, and wondering what was going on. I think it actually was good though because I think it actually was a pretty good model of conflict resolution. Like they watched the conflict and the resolution and saw that we were ok for the rest of the trip. After that night he also became incredibly "huggy" which was slightly awkward, but also like honestly, like reassuring. Anyway, yeah, that was tough.

I met this woman on skid row named Pauline. I guess I should probably describe skid row. It's about six or so city blocks in the heart of down town LA where people live on the streets or in really dodgy hotels. Nearly everyone is addicted to drugs or alchohol and most of the women that live there are prostitutes, selling themselves for about $5. I saw more sin in the 4 times I got to go down there than I can remember seeing in one place before. And I don't mean sin as in like a judging "God hates fags" kind of way, but in the kind of way that honestly breaks your heart because you can see sin destroying lives. You see people that have given everything they have for crack or heroin, and can't even remember why they started and don't even consider hope for a better life. I think that's actually one thing that hit me really hard, is that in the suburbs, or maybe more appropriately in my christian, churched culture, we flirt with sin. We play with sin because our sins are relatively safe. Impure thoughts, porn, lusts of the flesh, swearing, pride, selfishness....they are all "safe sins" that we can hide pretty well if we try. But on skid row you see that sin is not something to be flirted with. Run from sin because eventually it will RUIN your life. There were educated people living on the streets because of sin. Men who had left their wives and kids behind because they chose sin over their family. You see the port-o-johns lined up on the corners where the prostitutes do their business, and not only that but you see men going in and out of them regularly. Or a woman coming out still putting her shirt on. You could feel the darkness and oppression. So that's where I met Pauline. Her face was aged by years of hardship and I'm sure she must be 10 years younger than she looked. I met her while we were serving lunch on the streets with a ministry at the DC called Under the Bridge that takes hot, good meals out to where the people that need them live. I started talking with her and after a while asked if there was anything I could pray for her for, and she looked around and whispered to me, "I'm pregnant, and I need a place to stay." I was speechless. I'm still speechless. Because to even say, I can't imagine, is an understatement. And yet here I was not imagining, talking with this woman who was living this out. So I prayed for her, and I pray for her everyday because I can't get her face out of my head. When we were done praying she was crying, and asked if she could get extra food because she doesn't get to eat that much and being pregnant... I went up to the girls that were serving and told them to make sure she got 2 plates of food. Part of me was skeptical, but even if it was just a story, someone that is so desperate for love, attention, food, prayer, whatever to make up a story like that is just as heartbreaking.

There's so much more, but I've since gotten distracted and totally lost my train of thought. I'm also just anxious to get over to Phoenix and chill with the fam. Hopefully I'll finish this up later.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm just going to throw this out. My guitar is busted, and I'm done pouring money into a peice of junk when I could at least start saving a little towards a new one. But it's been about 2 months now and I'm going crazy and I don't know what else to do but seriously start asking God and believing for some kind of miracle. I know in light of everything I've just talked about it seems kind of trivial, but my guitar is how I worship, and seriously I've been lacking without it. If you want to I would love if you would join in bugging God about this with me, and not just bugging, but bugging in faith. So yeah, I'm out.

Happy Resurrection Day! Something you can truely be happy about.