PASADENA MISSION TRIP UPDATE #6 – JANUARY 3, 2017
Wait a minute. What just happened here? I believe it is time to step back, take a look at this day and reflect upon it! There have been things happening today that were not normal. What a day it has been! Let me explain.
It’s January and I was outside without a coat today and never even gave it a thought. Now that is not normal. I rode around on the California freeways in a black Mercedes high-topped shuttle, as if I was a person of importance, and that is certainly not normal!! I helped move a mountain of items from our meeting room into the back of three shuttles so we could give them to the homeless today. I spent the better part of the day in downtown Los Angeles where the high-rise buildings poke their cement and steel girders high into the sky. What Iowa boy does that on a normal day?
I had my picture taken on the top of a five-story building with the skyscrapers of Los Angeles in the background. How can you top that? But it gets even more incredible for 30 (four had to return to Iowa early) people who have become friends this last week were in the photo with me. We are all from the Midwest and I wonder how many other people from our part of the country were doing what we did today? I’m guessing not too many. What a day it has been! Today we were available to be God’s hands and feet. We hope and pray we made a difference in His world with our feeble efforts. Today was not normal as we rubbed shoulders with the homeless of Los Angeles!
To better explain the story, our Petal Pusher team loaded all the items we had brought, or had drop shipped to give to the homeless, into the shuttles this morning. We went to the Union Rescue Mission building in the heart of the city and worked there for a good part of the day. Some of us worked in the kitchen serving meals to four major groups of hungry people that came through the food line. Others were preparing food for tomorrow by cutting potatoes, peppers and chicken into pieces. Some scooped ice cream into dishes in preparation for tomorrow’s push of hungry Los Angeles homeless people. Depending upon the time of the month, there can be up to a thousand people who eat the noon meal in the mission building each day. Talk about things not being normal, how sad is it that this has become normal here in one of the largest state of the richest country in the world?
Other members of our group set up and worked on the distribution line as the homeless who finished their meal filed past and picked up needed items we brought for them. We handed out socks, hats, blankets, bags to carry their belongings, towel kits filled with personal items, underwear, wash cloths, baby wipes and baby hats, cookies and Hershey chocolate bars to name a few. Hundreds of men, women and children, all of them Los Angeles homeless people, received these items that were donated by the people in Iowa, Illnois and Indiana. We were the hands and feet handing the items to hurting people on behalf of those who donated them.
Some in our group went to another floor of the building to be with children who have moved from the street into the building to live there as they transition. They read to them, listened to them and loved them, taught some songs, and colored Jesus books with them. They also gave them a slinky and another toy to play with. One of the things that impressed our volunteers was that the children have goals and dreams. One little girl said she wanted to get enough money so someday she could buy a house and come back to help the kids on the fourth floor of the building where she is now living.
In our meeting room tonight we shared our experiences and feelings of the day. Much was said and many comments were written that Ellie will later publish in one of her articles. As the meeting began this evening, Ellie handed everyone special silly glasses to make the point that perhaps we had seen the world with different eyes today. Some expressed that they were out of their comfort zone as they arrived at the homeless shelter. Prayers for strength were sent to Heaven as we entered the building.
We also had a guest speaker at our meeting tonight. Kimberley is a great friend who teaches in a public school in Compton. She talked about her life and her struggles with some personal issues. She is a powerful speaker and gave a great testimony of God at work in her life. She also shared about her students and explained some of the issues faced by the kids she has in her class. She is excited for this coming Monday as she goes back to teach after Christmas break.
She will have a new class of students on Monday. Kimberley actually requests the roughest and worst behaving kids for her class because she knows what they need and knows how to help them! She explained that of the 33 teachers in her school, 13 quit this past year because of conditions they couldn’t deal with. This has caused discipline to deteriorate even further. The incoming students to Kimberley’s classroom have had substitute teachers most of this school year and have become very disruptive and are out of control. Pray for Kimberley as she welcomes this new class into her room and begins to work with them to teach and reshape them into responsible kids who see themselves as valuable human beings. Our group gave Kimberley $650 to use in her classroom where she feels it will be most valuable. It could possibly be used to purchase books for them to read or a field trip. She was also given school supplies for her classroom from Trinity Lutheran in Des Moines, something they always need.
So, as this very not normal day comes to a close, we are winding down and getting ready to close out this mission trip. It has been a fast paced week with little free time at our disposal. So, with our mission accomplished, tomorrow is our free day. We have some petal pushers who will be renting cars and driving to the Ronald Reagan Museum in Simi Valley. Others will Uber to the Battleship Iowa for exploration of that floating weapon system now anchored on display in Long Beach. One group has arranged Uber transportation to Santa Monica Pier to see the sights, shop and enjoy a meal together. Some of us will remain here to catch up on sleep or simply lounge in the hotel. I suspect there may be even more events arranged before the day is over. We hope everyone enjoys our only free day.
On Thursday we once again take a hotel shuttle to LAX where we will board Southwest planes heading east and fly back to the cold Midwest part of the country. Few of us are excited about the January cold we will encounter when we land. The Iowa people will drop out of the sky in Kansas City and drive back home. Another airplane for the Indiana group will return to Indianapolis.
The mission trip will then be history and our time together will be over. As is true with every Pasadena trip in the past, the reality is that this particular group of people God brought together will never all be together on an adventure again. We bonded as a group and many memories were made, no question about it. As we part ways, we leave the success for our group’s impact in God’s hands. I know many in our group are thinking about of our wonderful shuttle drivers this past week. Hopefully we were able to plant some seeds that God will water to encourage growth in His kingdom.
And with that, I will sign off. I hope you have enjoyed my updates and hope they helped you feel part of our mission adventure from the comforts of your home. Speaking for the whole Pasadena Mission Team, I pray God’s richest blessing for each of you. May 2017 be a year filled with His blessings as you experience its remaining 362 days of God’s grace!
Lynn Menz – a tired Petal Pusher – one who has been part of a not very normal day/week.