Tuesday, June 25

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Part 2 of 2 #wegottoserve I signed up for the Dream Center trip with absolutely no idea of what I was getting myself into. I didn’t do any research, I didn’t know where it was, all I knew was that it was one week and that my friend, Abby, was encouraging me to come. Before we got to Dream Center, we stopped at Newport Beach and had some alone time to write in a prayer journal. Matt asked us to think about what service means to us and sent us off with the verse Micah 6:8. I’ve never had a prayer journal before, so I wasn’t exactly sure how it worked. As I wrote, I realized that I was completely unaware of the real reason I was going to the Dream Center. It didn’t feel like this was my “divine calling.” I was simply fulfilling a request from my good friend. Today was our first day, so we went to the Dream Kids Zone to help clean the play areas. I sat there cleaning building blocks, wondering “why am I here?” I could be at home; I could be sleeping, or eating, or on my phone; why am I here? That question has been sticking with me all day. It’s no lie that I love opportunities to love on others, but am I doing this for myself, someone else, or the Kingdom of God? Physically I’m leaning into this mission, but I’m not sure if I’m mentally and emotionally there just yet. So that’s what I’m praying for. That HE will give me those answers. Like Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good.” As of now, I can’t see it. So I’m praying, God, show me, why am I here? ~Jennifer Yee Thanks for reading our day 1 update! Please continue to pray for us to learn to love God, love others and ourselves more! We also ask that you pray for God to continue to give us opportunities to lean in and be bold while we are here! Thank you for all your support!

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Wednesday, June 26

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Hi Everyone. Just a small piece of knowledge about some of our posts. There are some ministry sites that we go to in which we do not take pictures. This is for a few reasons : 1. To be respectful to those around us, living in these areas 2. To live in the moment of what is happening around us. So the following posts have words from our students but not necessarily photos from the exact site! Day 2: Part 1 of 4 #wegettoserve Hola everyone! My name is Eddie Ayala and I’m currently at the Dream Center and I want to talk about something that really stuck out to me. I went to Skid Row this morning and I was really really nervous, scared and had no idea what to do. But I knew that they’re all humans like all of us and when we were driving there there was a man on the street asking for money and we did not have any. But we had food, so Matt D said that I should give him a lunchable and I rolled down my window and he was walking towards me and I gave him the food. It made me feel more brave and confident and I knew that God was by our sides. As soon we got there I saw a lot of my church mates and other people like talking to them and giving them food. A man on a bike came up to me and I gave him food too and that boosted my confidence. It was so hard for me to start a conversation with someone. I would always look down and I taught myself to face my fears and talk to them because they are normal like us and have a lot of things in common. Just seeing people on the streets, with no privacy to hide what they are going through hide really hit me . I really loved how they were so so kind and welcoming and loved talking to us because they probably haven’t had a conversation in a long time and it probably made their whole day! I thank God so much and for so many things that I have in my life and I will never forget about those people. They will always be in my heart and when I see a person that’s struggling on the streets I will always think of the people on Skid Row. -Eddie Ayala

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Day 2: Part 3 of 4 #wegettoserve Only God can prepare you for what you see at Skid Row and what you experience at Imperial Courts. I think to myself, “Back in Walnut Creek, would I shake the hand of a stranger in homelessness? Would I lay a hand on them and pray for them? Would I hug them? Would I lean my forehead against theirs?” The reason for these questions is fear. Thinking this would be my mindset stepping out of the youth group minivan and on to the streets, I was astounded when I couldn’t find anything but courage. This courage came from God because It allowed me to do everything I wouldn’t do in Walnut Creek, and I was, by no means, the only one. And by walking with God on the streets of Skid Row, I was able to give more love, more grace, more patience, and touch more people. As we embarked to Imperial Courts for adopt-a-block, this courage sustained. We talked to more individuals and my heart broke as I compared their living situation to my own. One little girl told me they couldn’t drive their car and they couldn’t pay for the bus. It’s not fair that a girl so young has to carry such a large burden. But still, even in a community such as this, Rachel helped me realize that they possess a love for their neighbors that our church needs to learn from. When a two year old fell off her scooter, her six year old sister carried her to their neighbor of no relation. They trusted that neighbor more than we would trust our own neighbors and their neighbor loved them more than we love our own. This is the love we need to bring back with us. But it starts with courage-courage to make a change in how we live out our faith-and that is something that comes only from God. -Abby Young

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Thursday, June 27

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Day 3: Part 1 of 3 #wegettoserve Hello church, I just wanted to tell you guys a little bit about my experience this week at Dream Center. Going into this week, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew I’d be helping serve people in the “rougher areas” of Los Angeles, but I didn’t realize this trip was going to have such a huge impact on me and the way I view these amazing people. I got the chance to go to Skid Row to pray for and talk to some of the people experiencing homelessness on the streets. Sadly, I did not expect the people there to be as kind, gracious, and open as they were. I think this says something about how we view the less-fortunate people in our world. Our society creates such a horrible and disgusting image of these people, when in reality, they are just like us, but they just happened to experience some hard times. I met this amazing man on the streets named Blaine and he told me how when he was younger, he lived his life for God, loved singing, volunteered for the Red Cross, donated blood, worked at a church, trusted in God, and more along those lines. If you had seen him before he hit the rough patch he went through, you probably would’ve thought he was an amazing person, but because he currently is on the streets, he is viewed as disgusting and dirty to most. I never expected to feel so strongly about this, but now I’m praying that our church will open their hearts to not only these people, but everyone. If I’m being honest, I am disappointed with our church for being so narrow-minded; and I’ll admit I was a part of that group as well until this trip. I pray that we will not be so quick to judge people, including the people in our own church because they are all children of God, and He loves them. Aside from Skid Row, I was so blessed to be able to bless other people during the food trucks, when we gave food to those who couldn’t afford to buy it for themselves. We were also blessed with the opportunity to meet young children and show them the love God has for them. Overall, this trip was really eye-opening and I am so glad I had the chance to do this. Thank you for following along on this journey with us! -Sarah Young

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Day 3: Part 2 of 3 #wegettoserve Hey guys, my name is Austin Rickenbacher and I attended on the 2019 mission trip to the Dream Center in LA. While I was there, I had experience soooo much that I didn’t know existed. For example we went to Skid Road which was a street that houses the most amount of homeless people in Los Angeles. As we were there, I was able to help impact the community by praying, offering free food and just seeing what people in the world are experiencing. We also did other outreaches on this trip like helping with food truck service and cleaning the kids center and everything that I have done this week has made me even more happy that I came. I have felt God’s presence even more and know even more that he has a plan for me and you. Today (6/27), we attended a church service at Angelus Temple, down the street from the dream center and there, I felt God so much, and his presence there made people so happy and free and excited. It was just awesome. There was a speaker named Shawn Meaike who gave his testimony and he really inspired me today, he talked about how he rose into Christianity from a poor not so good life and it was really inspiring. Something that he said that stuck with me was “Life sucks sometimes, but it’s how we overcome and persevere through it that counts and God will always be with us”. This experience has truly been amazing and I’m so thankful I was able to attend the Dream Center this year and I look forward to next year.

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Day 3 : Part 3 of 3 #wegettoserve Today, a group of us worked in the kitchen and at the end, the head staff of the kitchen told her testimony. At the end, she said if you’re going to remember one thing I say, I want it to be this- God wants you to make Him the lever of your soul or else life will hit you in the face and your faith foundation will be destroyed. She said one decision, one small situation can lead you to where she was before Dream Center. She said I want you to pursue Him just as He has always pursued you. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God wants you to ask Him to fill the void nothing else can fill, He wants to be pursued by you, not because He’s selfish but because He loves you and He wants you to be His vessel to love others. I’ve been going to church my whole life and so God has always been a presence in my life but His love and His faithfulness seemed faded for me because I never knew any different. Tonight, we went to church and they started singing a song called Goodness of God. Some of the lyrics are, “All my life you have been faithful and all my life you have been so, so good... your goodness is running after, it’s running after me.” After, they also sang Great Are You Lord. I started crying during these songs because I fully felt how good God is and I realized how faithful he has been to me my entire life. He has been pursuing me the whole time, he’s always blessed me with all my needs and beyond. I’m now making it my mission to love every single person in front of me just as God has loved me. One of the staff during the Short Term Missions debrief says if you’re walking around without grace, love and compassion, it’s not because you don’t have it, it’s that you haven’t put it on- Jesus bought it, we just have to wear it. I challenge you to love every person in front of you, show compassion to those who need it and forgive those who have sinned against you. - Kellie Hintzoglou

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