Internet was hard to come by in LA. But I was able to throw together a video of our week 30,000 feet in the air somewhere over California in 14AThat’s crazy. I made a video… More
Oh! To see things through God’s perspective. Ephesians 1:18. If we only had eyes to truly see the poverty of our own souls. And then, there shines a smile, a handshake, a hug and we fall forward a bit in the kindness of it all. 54 blocks worth of homeless-filled tents and canopies sheltering LA’s most vulnerable. You wouldn’t know it by their welcome. They are so happy to see us, so happy to be held. And it thaws something in my own sometimes frozen heart. It’s a Beautiful Place to be here. It’s a walk I’ll never forget. I met Monte. I held Jasmine.
Thanks to The Eleven Boys and the Twins …
Here is a thought or two about what I appreciated about each of you on this trip.
The first night we were meeting up on Hollywood Blvd. at the CVS in LA, Denton walked over to a girl playing music a few feet away and slipped a bill in her hand. It really touched something in me. I’ll long remember that moment when he thought no one was looking.
Patrick asked such great questions about what he saw. He’s a thinker with a big heart. Patrick has always always been so kind to me.
Knox has such a great humor and takes life in great strides. He was such a great trooper on this trip. He has been nothing but kind to me.
William could not have handled himself better in a rough patch getting sick! He is such a respectful and genuine young man.
Jax participated fully and you could count on him to do the right things. He is humble and kind and passionate about what he does.
Brendan truly honored our Tour Guide by sharing in the group about her—meant a lot to the Joshua Expeditions Guide. One time, Brendan came to my defense in a conversation and it spoke volumes to me. I’ll never forget him walking home his new friend.
Bailey reached out to include people and was a great addition to the whole group bringing them together. She is so cooperative!
Paige is humble and kind and respectful and added so much to this trip. You can count on Paige to give 100%! So sad to lose them early.
Max jumped in with whatever was asked of him whether in the van, on the streets, with the homeless or kids. So appreciated that.
Alec is always so patient and kind to me and his willingness to cooperate and participate was greatly appreciated.
Hayden took great initiative to meet the homeless making sure they felt connected. And he did it with the kids too. He was the leader moving quickly into the lives of those we met.
Andrew handled himself so well in a group and is such an asset. He charts his own course well.
Wyatt always stood tall to pray. He loved the Compton kids so much reaching out to play with them like they were his best friends. He was a magnet to the kids. And the same with the homeless, toting his red wagon of food and big heart for the underserved. I loved that.
Maris was an awesome JE Tour Guide for this group. They could not have loved and enjoyed her any more! She made this trip what it was! All the boys treated her with great love and care like she was their best friend and she probably will always be. She was on their side all the way. Thanks Maris—-you were one of the best things on this trip!
Zach Tuthill was the best handpicked teacher I could ever work with on a trip like this. His flexibility, his character, his faith spoke volumes!
“Jesus takes the imperfect number 11 and gives it a perfect vocation.” Bruner. And the Great Commission falls on an imperfect 11 and all of elevenish people. We are all called and are confident of this—He who began a good work in each of us will carry us all to completion! Phil 1:6 And these Eleven Boys were such willing volunteers. And they had fun wherever they went, like Universal Studios.
Eleven boys made their way to the Compton kids. A weekly kids’ camp at a rev center where The Dream Center serves among the poorest in LA. Our crazy boys were like magnets to these underserved kids. Football. Hula hoops. Basketball. Even Homework. Swing me around. Throw me in the air. Walk me to my humble home. Hold me tight. I need Something to hold onto cause my world is built on sand. And our boys moved strongly into an elementary world of need. Their joy collided with this Compton world’s great need. So beautiful to watch these 11 do what was so natural, so real, so kind. They loved the Compton kids. Just couldn’t get enough. Couldn’t stay long enough.
Stepped on a thousand stars last night on Hollywood Blvd. Took about 20,000 steps down Sunset this morning picking up trash. It’s all about giving the cup of cold water in His Name. So we walked Skid Row and met brand new friends like Monte. I hope I see him again one day. I know I will.
54 blocks of homeless living under canopies and tents. Living under Grace. May that Grace be multiplied in all of us. John 1:16.
Tonight we’re under the shimmering stars with a sliver of a silvery moon overlooking the chilly city. The Pacific Ocean to our west. Hollywood to our south. Los Angeles to our east. And a precious Tour Guide by our side. The Grand Griffith Observatory. #hpgoweeklosangeles #sovereignsteps #
We get to serve every day as teachers. And now this week! We get to serve around the world. 11 international trips. 12 stateside trips. The Dream Center of LA boasts nothing less than Hope and Glory. It’s only Monday but what we see is hope in this mission. We sit on their campus tonight with 200 teens wanting to connect with a waiting world of needs. These Dream people are so genuine, so true, so loved by a Sovereign God who is over all their steps. The words of their very young leadership are weighty. Full of Fod-breathed words for the homeless they serve. Isaiah 64:4 no eye has seen. No ear has heard. All that God has planned for all of us. #sovereignsteps #hpgoweeklosangeles #dreamcenter
This was our last full day in Galveston before departure on Friday. We spent most of the day working on small projects, walking through the neighborhood again learning about ourselves and the people. We even were able to pray for people and hear stories about leaders on the trip that went through life struggles similar to what we see in Galveston. We learned! In the afternoon, we went back to street camp to play with the kids. We had a blast playing games, throwing paper airplanes, singing songs, listening to a quick bible story, and doing crafts one on one until it was time to say goodbye.
There were some tears and special goodbyes as we left for the day. You could tell by the reflection time that some of the kids really loved on us well too.
During our nightly download and devotional time, we shared words of affirmation and encouragement with one another. Each and every person in the room was called and known by name. Though the changes may be subtle and small, God definitely was able to get into the hearts of everyone on this trip, even those who flat out refused to have anything to do with prayer or devotional time. Whether it was for attention or a deep seed of rebellion, we will not know at this moment but one day, the seeds that were planted this week will grow. They will bear fruit. They will make a difference in someone’s life. Here’s to great week of service and quality time in Galveston!
We had a a trash container delivered to the Sandbanks and arrived in the morning to start cleaning up. The community is filled with trash partly because they don’t really have anywhere to put it! The last few years during GoWeek we have loaded up trucks and hauled off trash with just a little help here and there from women in the community. We always engage the younger kids not in school to help us – hoping to teach them new habits! This year, with the container in place and a plan to have it emptied monthly – even the men in the community joined in to help. In just a few hours we filled an entire 30 yard container with another pile that will fill it again! It truly was an incredible experience to be working with the community instead of just for them. Our HP kids were lifting cast iron tubs, hauling freezers that had been sitting full for probably months or years (YUCK!), and filling bags and bags of trash. In the end we had hugs and God’s blessings from people in the community! Needless to say that everyone needed a quick rinse before we headed to the school to finish our garden and play with the kids one last afternoon. Hot and tired your kids stepped up to mix concrete, finish setting rocks, haul soil and plant seeds/plants to complete the memorial vegetable garden for a teacher that helped us get our ministry started. Just as we finished the bell rang and we were able to play with the kids for an hour while they waited for the bus. The day not yet over 🙂 we headed to the community for last good-byes, helping with homework and a few tears. Our HP kids truly had an impact on everyone in the community!
We started our last day in Ukraine very early by driving to the airport in Kiev at 3am. The first flight was only a few hours. We landed in Frankfurt, Germany, early in the morning as well. A few of us were randomly selected for more security screening, which ended up taking a very long time. We eventually made it to our gate with seconds to spare. Finally we got through and got onto the plane heading to Houston. The flight was much longer than anyone expected: almost 11 hours.
After the flight we landed back in our favorite state and began talking about the great memories and relationships we had made over the past week and about all of the lessons we learned. We were so sad it was over, but at the same time it was an amazing week that allowed us to bond with the Ukrainian people we had met as well as our entire team.
As we head back to Austin, the relationships and memories we made will be carried with us into the future and I can’t wait to see the impact this week will have in everybody’s lives.
This Saturday morning we packed up and started on our way back home. We left Zhytomyr and spent the day in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
We got to visit a few church buildings, make our way through the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), and walk down Kreschatyk Street – the main boulevard through Kiev where Soviet displays of military power were staged as “parades” for years. We later made our way to the Motherland Memorial (huge Soviet WW2 statue that looks across the Dnipr river from Kiev) by way of the Metro – and an escalator descent into the deepest metro station in the world!
Independence Square and Kreschatyk were also the epicenter of Ukrainian Nationalist political protests in 2004 and 2014, since they are the main gathering place in town and just down the street from the building that houses the Rada, Ukraine’s legislative body. In 2014, suspected Russian undercover operatives attacked the protesters and the months-long protest turned bloody over the course of a few days. We got to visit where these tragic historic events took place.
We received notice from the US Embassy earlier this week that a protest would be held on the Maidan Saturday morning, so we exercised extra caution and avoided the area as necessary. When these events occur (and escalate) in Ukraine, they tend to be very localized.
Thanks for your prayers for our team. We have felt peace, safety, and lots of blessings so far this week. We are so thankful for the time we have had together and with friends in Zhytomyr.
After the church and the square, we headed to lunch at a Ukrainian buffet. While most of the locals only had a plate or so at their table, we as Americans had about 6 plates per person. We wanted to try everything.
After we finished eating we walked about a mile or so to this popular chocolate store, Roshen, where we all stocked up on many pounds of candy. Once we finished with the subway mentioned above, we drove to the 300 ft tall statue that included a really interesting WW2 museum that taught us about Ukraine’s heavy involvement in WW2 and the Holocaust. Once we were finished with the museum we headed back to the hotel for a final Ukrainian meal together and a few short hours of sleep for the long travel days ahead.