09 7 / 2012
Well.. I didn’t go to bed quite yet. I really wanted to figure out how to share the pictures that I have taken through Instagram on here with you guys. I have connected my Instagram to a Facebook album, but I realize that some of you may not have Instagram or Facebook.
Here is the link to my album with pictures from NYC. This is an album on Facebook BUT this is the public link for ANYONE to see. Cool?
09 7 / 2012
Why hello there folks,
Wow, it has actually been three weeks. Sometimes it feels like I have been here for years, and sometimes it feels like I have been here for two days. God is revealing Himself to me more and more everyday and I am humbled in awe of His presence and the work that He is accomplishing in NYC.
Monday and Tuesday, Adri and I finished up the tri-fold handout ad the one page brochure about the NYC Love Kitchen that will be used for fundraising. I am super excited about them and I had a really fun time using Photoshop to create them. We also went to Staples to buy some stuff for our tri-fold velcro board that will replace the bulletin board in the Love Kitchen with resources on it. We will also use the board to display the NYC Love Kitchen at The Hope Fair (planned by three NYCUP interns) next Saturday which will provide free health care, food, games, and resources for the Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods.
Now let me tell you about a really exciting story.
Keisha is one of Adri and I’s favorites that come in to eat at the Love Kitchen. She has such a great heart and spirit. Keisha is in her thirties and has lived a long, adventurous life. Coming from a brutal childhood in mid-west America, she escaped to a school in Florida and finished up at the Art Institute of Atlanta. From there she got a very good job working with computers in Atlanta until she decided to wander on up to NYC. She got another job working with computers in the city and married a very nice man. From the time she was a little kid, however, she has always wanted to write books about the childhood in poverty that she had gone through, how she advanced herself out of poverty, and all of the experiences and encounters she has had in her vast travels so that she may help other kids out of tough situations and give them hope too. However, sadly, about six months ago misfortune struck Keisha and her husband and both of them were laid off from their jobs. Her husband has been working odd jobs and she has been looking for work herself, but they’re getting backed up on bills. She was telling us one day how much she just wanted to be able to write but she had pawned her computer and did not even have enough money to buy some paper. Adri’s kind and gracious spirit decided that she wanted to buy Keisha a really nice journal and several notebooks of paper for Keisha to begin writing in. Adri wrote a very sweet message and also many scriptures and words of encouragement through God in the first six pages of the journal. She gave it to her one day at the kitchen but Keisha did not open the gift at the kitchen and we did not see her for about a whole week. She came in this Monday. As soon as she walked in she ran towards the both of us with the biggest smile I have ever seen, hugged us, and started to burst out into tears because she realized that there were people in the world that do care about her dreams and believe in her aspirations. She was so over joyed by Adri’s kind gesture that she talked and talked for a long time about all of her struggles but also all of her thankfulness to GOD because she knows that HE has HIS hand on her life. So much so that she had not been in for a week because she had gotten a job at a restaurant. It wasn’t all that she wanted but it’s enough to begin to pay off the bills and give her time to start writing her book. I have never seen so much joy and happiness from someone going through hard times. She began to have true faith. Faith when things are not easy. She truly began to rely on God and not on her own understanding. We actually invited her over for dinner at NYCUP Housing on Friday night and I am so excited to continue our friendship with her while we are here.
Wednesday, was Independence Day! Wahoo! I got to spend it with God, being restored by His creation and the things that He has set in motion on this earth. Sarah, McKenzie, Anahi, Maria and I all went to Maria’s grandmother’s beach house in Long Island to a beach called Point Lookout on Long Beach. To add some comical relief to this blog I HAVE to share a crazy story. We decided to take the long but free way there by taking the the A train from the beginning to the absolute very end and then taking a bus from Far Rockaway to Long Beach. On the sketch bus ride to Long Beach a very eccentric, possibly schizophrenic lady hopped on the bus and sat down next tome. This lady kept mumbling under her breath and repeating things that my group was saying and sometimes randomly spurting out random loud words. At one point we were talking about Ben and Jerry’s and we were talking about the flavor Phish Food and then she starts spatting off about human food in really creepy voices and biting the air over and over and talking about how dead humans smell. If you have read about the “zombie drug” called “bath salts” and the incident that happened in Florida recently.. I seriously thought this girl was on it. I was so ready to jump out of the way if she tried to eat my face off. Literally, we couldn’t tell if this girl was seriously about to eat me alive, but I did not want to move for fear of insulting her. A lot more happened and looking back on it, it’s an on-going inside joke between us and super comical but also looking back on it I really wish that I would have had the guts to talk to her about Jesus. There is so much spiritual warfare here and who knows, there could have been a demon in her. I really wish that I would have had the boldness to speak life into her dry bones but I trust that God will send other witnesses to her.
The beach was incredible. It was awesome to meet all of Maria’s super welcoming, hospitable, and loving Italian family. Her precious sweet Mom provided both lunch and dinner for us as well as a train ticket back home the fast way on the Long Island Railroad. It was so relaxing and so restorative. I love how the beach is just a subway or train ride away (depending on which beach you go to) from the 24/7 city. A place to enjoy God’s creation and soak in His goodness.
To top the night off, the five of us fought the crowds and saw the famous, televised Macy’s Fireworks over the Hudson River. We camped out at 12th and 30th and enjoyed the celebration of Freedom. A very different freedom than what we are fighting for, but freedom nonetheless. Hopefully God will use His kingdom on earth to abolish labor and sex slavery in my lifetime and I will live to see a whole day set aside for fireworks and celebration for that kind of freedom.
Thursday, was back to the good ol’ Love Kitchen. I got to further my relationship with Mr. Jones the director of the kitchen that day. He told me about an incredible story that he had gone through in his life. A few years back he had actually had cancer and read a book by a lady who had been cured from cancer through natural remedies (YES-Everything I believe in!!!). He went to a clinic in Florida for three weeks and learned about wheatgrass, how to grow it, eating a completely raw diet of just veggies and fruit and things from the earth, how to juice, and about many other things like spirulina and blue algea, etc. Things that GOD created and not what has been created by MAN’S knowledge. Not drugs and modern medicine which only create a system of dependency and lack of faith in God which basically stems from distrust in His creation and His healing powers. The food and the things of the earth that HE created let the body’s immune system that HE created work at it’s full extent so that it may fight Anything. Do I even have to explain to you that through prayer, supplication, trust, faith, God’s supernatural powers, and the fruits of His earth healed Mr. Jones of his sickness and disease that Man has labeled as Cancer. God is so good! He did not leave us on this earth to come up with strategies and ways to heal our bodies. He left us on this earth to depend fully on Him and the things of the earth that He created to benefit us and not to harm us.
Restore God’s creation. Don’t give in to the system. Trust in the Lord. He will give you strength. And work to bring back Shalom which was only found in the Garden of Eden when this earth was first created. Strive everyday to restore what is broken. The earth will not be perfect and be made new until Christ comes back to reign, but we are called to continue to be good stewards of the land in which He has given us in our short span upon this earth.
Friday, was a very good day and also a slightly upsetting day - but God is good and bigger than all of my worries. He is sovereign and Lord over All. He is working out all things for good. He is Lord over sickness. He is Lord over poverty. He is Lord over slavery. He is Lord over tears. He is Lord over consumerism. He is Lord over self-obsession. He is Lord over my worries. My hope and my soul rest in the day that He will return and make all things new. Until then, we will strive and continue to submit ourselves to His authority so that we may be instruments of His Kingdom on Earth to bring justice and through Him seek to restore this fallen world.
We printed the tri-fold brochures on Friday - two hundred! We also printed 100 one page handouts and 50 printouts of resources for single parent services, family services, and senior services in both English and Spanish. We received the new board to hang up in the kitchen and will begin to laminate master-copies of these resources to hang up on the board and then have pockets with extra copies for the folks to take home with them and be able to use to find help and hope. Wahoo! Hope is coming for everyone that comes in to the kitchen. I see a vision of dignity’s being restored and New Life on its way. New Life in Christ Jesus and a new life on this earth.
Friday was sad, however, because Keisha (the lady whom I wrote about earlier) did not come into the kitchen Thursday or Friday. We called her several times to give her the details of when and where to come for dinner at our home, but she did not answer and she did not have voice mail. I am trying my best to not be worried about her so I pray, trust, and know that God has His hand on her wherever she is and whatever she is going through. She was SO, SO excited to come over on Friday, so something unfortunate must have happened. Please be praying for Keisha. Pray that she would either come in this next week so that we can see her again or pray that we would find peace and comfort knowing that it is not up to us to continue to lift her spirits. God will lift her spirits Himself. Nothing we can do can add or take away from the work that He is doing. The battle is already won. It was won on the cross. It was won on calvary.
Friday night, I went on a “Funventure” throughout the city. Got to explore Dumbo (Down Under Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridge). We went to the Brooklyn Bridge Park and saw the BEAUTIFUL skyline of lower Manhattan and the gorgeous Brooklyn Bridge. It was so peaceful sitting by the East River with three great friends, chatting away about the perplexities of life. On our way to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, we found a random brown bag that said “Free, Please Take”. It was definitely previously owned by a typical Brooklyn hipster and we found some awesome treasures. Sarah took a teapot, Jon and Anahi both took water bottles and mugs, and I took a pot and a Whole Foods Tribeca water bottle. WHAT? Awesome. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge was beautiful. You could see from lower Manhattan and the financial district spanning all the way to Midtown. It was breathe taking seeing the city from that elevation and broadness was incredible. Seeing the city that called me at an early age to fame and glory to now seeing the city that God has called me to, to bring restoration, healing, and redemption in JESUS. We actually ran in to two of the other interns on the bridge!! In a city of 8 million people, who would of thunk? Mmm, good times, great memories. We walked down to Wall Street and explore the Financial District a little bit before we were exhausted and made our way back uptown. Successful day.
Saturday, I walked over to Inwood Hill Park and set up my hammock between two sweet trees by an inlet of the Hudson River. It was awesome calling the family and talking to them and my grandparents. My Dad’s side of the family is at the beach in North Carolina right now that we go to every year, so it was bitter sweet talking to them and knowing that this is the first time in my life that I am missing that, but God is good and I am definitely where I am supposed to be. They keep sending me teaser pictures of the beach and my favorite pizza place ever that now serves gluten free crust - yum. I was so encouraged and excited to receive a picture of Dad’s bible open to James with the ocean in the background. I am so blessed beyond measure to have grown up in a family that is so centered around God. Even when God has blessed them to vacation, they vacation with Jesus and not vacation like the world. Being filled up in Christ to pour out when they get back to their hometown. I was also able to speak with some incredible brothers in Christ from college who lifted my spirits through prayer and got me excited again to return to Appalachian State University in the fall. The community I have there is so precious and beautiful and I am so excited for all of us to bring what we have learned in our summers in other countries, cities, and hometowns back to college so that we can apply it on our campus and in our poverty stricken community. Boone, NC is a college town (for those who are reading that are not familiar). The county has 15,000 citizens and the university has 18,000 students nestled in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Beautiful as it may be, Watauga County actually has the highest amount of homelessness in North Carolina. I am beyond ecstatic to continue this radical way of living back where I will be for three more years. I also got to talk with my Grandparents on my Mom’s side of the family too. I absolutely love talking with them and sharing everything that I have been experiencing and encountering. They have traveled the world like crazy, so it is so much fun being able to share experiences with them about different things that I am seeing in NYC that they have seen. They live at the coast of NC, so I do not get to see them as often as I would like, but I am so excited to make a trip to see them when I get home to share pictures and stories of my trip here with them. So overall, my day hammocking in the park by the river with the cool breeze rushing through my hair was great. It was a day well spent with God’s nature and talking with His people until the park rangers found me and told me I was “hurting the trees”. Well, I guess I am not in the mountains anymore. (Shhh, I’ll keep hammocking but find a more hidden spot).
We also had the NYCUP Alumni BBQ that day which was funny because BBQ here does not mean pork. They did have “pulled pork” but “BBQ” is an occasion and not a food. It was cool to make connections with people who have done the project in years passed and to play games, eat good food, and relax. That night I was feeling like some good music and a great atmosphere so a few of us walked up a few blocks to Indian Road Cafe. We enjoyed the forties jazz music and had a ball laughing the night away. Again, a restorative day. After a long week, this weekend surely was relaxing.
Sunday, we went to Grace Faith church in Chinatown where Jonathan Walton (project director) actually was going to be speaking that day. He preached a very radical sermon about calling the church to action and about the complacency of some churches today. I truly hope that God used him as an instrument and for the Holy Spirit to call this church to radical faith.
After church, a good number of us went to get our Bubble Tea fix. Nom, nom, nom. And then… we went to HILLSONG NYC. Whew. I’ve been wanting to go here since this church planted in NY last year. I am sure that many of you have heard a lot of their music but I want to explain for all audiences on this blog. Hillsong church is a very radical church that started in Australia. Their visions is to: “To reach and influence the world by building a large Christ-centred, Bible-based church, changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life.” Hillsong Church has churches across the globe. Besides Sydney and Brisbane in Australia, Hillsong Church has campuses in London, Kiev, Cape Town, New York City, Moscow, Stockholm, Paris, Konstanz, Amsterdam, Melbourne & Copenhagen. Their worship team has been releasing music for years and years to create songs for other churches to use in worship or for us to listen to and worship along side of all over the world. They have seen thousands and thousands of people come to Christ all over the world and are very missional in all areas of the world with missionaries spanning all across the globe. That being said, Hillsong NYC could be defined as a very seeker friendly church yet still very good for those mature in their faith. They have grown so big in this city that they had 7 services today at the Gramercy Theatre and next Sunday they will have two venues and even more services. This is the type of church that is incredibly great to invite your friends to who do not believe. God is truly transforming the young culture here in NYC and giving them New Life. Just today many people came to faith at the 2PM service alone. Besides an incredible teaching inspired by God and through God from Pastor Carl, I was able to connect with God in ways that I do not get to often. They truly create a space of free worship and open the time up and allow the Holy Spirit to do what ever it wants to do. During the service, God truly allowed me to be so intimate and personal while singing and pouring out my soul to Him today. I have been filled up in numerous ways this weekend and I am so pumped to pour it all out over the brokenness that I will encounter as I go to work tomorrow morning.
After Hillsong, my friend Meg from App State has actually been doing an internship with Cru here in the city as well. They have been learning about how to collaborate faith and art and we went to their display today that was showing last night and this afternoon. It was so great to reunite with her and see the beautiful faith based work that they had created. Maria who is working with The Price of Life internship with NYCUP and is studying Graphic Arts and Sculpture absolutely loved it. The Price of Life (if you haven’t been reading the whole blog) will happen in Fall of 2013. There will be 80 events and proxy stations throughout the city raising awareness of sex trafficking. Maria is in charge of creating several sculptures that will be displayed in various locations. She is also collaborating and finding other artists to create displays that depict trafficking and slavery as well, so she made a lot of great connections at the art show that could potentially help out with the Price of Life.
Whew, it’s like 2AM and I do not know why I am still writing, but I wanted to update you guys on what is going on in the city. There is so much more to say, but some things will have to wait. Know that I am well because it is well with my soul. My heart is for this city. I am excited to be home soon (July 25th) and share the experiences, bring back what I have learned, and apply it. However, I can not wait for that day when I can come here to live, God willing. Goodnight my lovely readers and prayer warriors. I appreciate your prayers so incredibly much. Your intercession has truly shown itself to me as I have been here. Keep it up my precious brothers and sisters. Peace be with you all where ever you may be. May your day be blessed and full so that you may bless others. I will end with one of my favorite passages. Again, goodnight.
Isaiah 58:7-11“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
04 7 / 2012
These words have truly spoken to me, comforted me, and given me peace as I have experienced many tough encounters this summer. To read my toughest yet most beautiful encounter, skip to days 10-16 and read about what happened that Saturday.
May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their paint to joy.
And my God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done,
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
03 7 / 2012
NYCUP SIP DAYS #10-16
Good evening folks,
Again, forgive me if this is not the best writing. I do not have too much time to sit down and blog and when I do, there is so much to write about that it is hard to get my thoughts on to paper. Love you all.
The Lord has been working in great ways and has been revealing a lot to us all. I pray that wherever you may be in this world that you are being intentional about your faith each and every day. Our mission field is everywhere. It’s wherever you are.
This past week has been a wave of emotions. I have experienced the spiritual highs, to the lows, to the joy, to the sadness, to the anger, etc. Sometimes I have flipped from one to the other within a matter of a few minutes because of some of the things that I have seen, witnessed, and experienced here.
Monday through Thursday was just about like any other week. Get up early, eat some breakfast, talk with my peers, pray, read, or journal and then head to work. I and my fellow intern at the NYC Love Kitchen accomplished a lot this past week. During the day, we worked diligently researching a lot of the available resources in the area for the men and woman that come into eat dinner. We compiled a comprehensive list of resources such as shelters, food pantries, job training, senior services, etc. and we did so in both English and Spanish. We gathered up a proposed budget list to buy all of the necessary items that we need this upcoming week so that we can properly arrange this information and display it through many different mediums in the dining room. The Love Kitchen’s goals is not only to feed people daily, it’s to equip them with services and the necessary tools to restore their dignity and build them up so that they may support themselves again. We also almost completed a trifold brochure and a one page handout about the NYC Love Kitchen that we can use to gather support in the non-profit’s endeavors. This week we will continue to tweak those a little bit and work on a comprehensive document, a power point presentation, update the volunteer manual, and hopefully buy the items we need to display the services around the dining room.
I’ve started to form meaningful relationships at the Love Kitchen too. There are the regulars and the irregulars that come in. There are some that come every single day and you get to know their name, their story, their background, etc. There are also those that randomly come in every once and awhile or come in once their whole life. It’s been incredible to begin to form these relationships, have some great conversations, and be able to pray with some of them about the struggles that they are facing, whether or not they believe in Christ. There was one man this past week, Raymond, that I had a really great conversation with. He had been homeless four years ago and used to come into the Love Kitchen every day for dinner. However, he had picked himself up, gotten on his feet, and has been living in an apartment in Brooklyn for the past several years. He started to tear up a little bit, though, when he told me that within the past several days he had gotten majorly drunk and high and had been living on the streets for a few days and somehow wandered all the way up to Washington Heights. Earlier that day, down on 125th street in Harlem, a man had actually seen through this man’s dirtiness and disheveled appearance and prayed for him. Next thing Raymond knew, he was walking into the Love Kitchen on 204th street for dinner. He had no idea how he gotten there or why he was there. This man was not like any of the other men that came in that day. I could sense that there was something about him that God’s spirit was sending me to talk to him. So, I stopped serving for a bit and left that to the other volunteers so that I could sit down and talk with this man. He told me all that I have just told you and said that there was some sort of reason that he had randomly come in that day. He was having flashbacks of the years that he had spent homeless when he was eating there every single day. He was having flashbacks about all of the words that Mr. Jewel Jones (the director of the kitchen) had said to him about the love of Jesus Christ. He kept on saying that he felt as if that God he used to hear about had brought him there for a purpose. I quickly intervened and responded by telling him that God had absolutely brought him there for a meaning but Raymond couldn’t quite understand why Christ would love him when he had been so caught up in drugs and alcohol for the last year. This conversation went on for a while until he grasped the concept of God’s grace and love a little bit more. He told me that he wanted a Spanish bible and to think about these things more, though. I hated to see him go but I know that a seed was planted and only God can make it grow. It was not my job to “save” him, only to preach the gospel and let the Holy Spirit take it from there. I have not seen Raymond since. I imagine he went back to his apartment in Brooklyn and is hopefully still curious about the God who loves him. Please pray for this man, Raymond. That God would continue to show up in all areas of his life and that God would continue to make Himself so evident to Raymond that he would have no choice but to bow down in awe of the glory of God.
Friday night, Jonathan Walton took about seven of us interns to the co-founder of the Blind Project’s home in Brooklyn. About 20 different people in various organizations fighting against human trafficking came together to create a coalition and to talk with Joe Joe Mazzilli. This is Joe’s bio from his website www.runawaysquad.com
“Joe Mazzilli spent 15 years with the NYPD busting every kind of criminal, dealing with every kind of crime. But what he was most affected by were the runaway kids he saw fall through the cracks only to end up abused, exploited, or killed. Now, Mazzilli’s a private investigator who has assembled a squad of highly-skilled P.I.s devoted to rescuing runaways, and bringing them home.”
Mazzilli was your typical deep voiced, macho, Italian who was in the mafia for almost 10 years during his younger years. It was so incredible to hear his side of the story as he is fighting against trafficking in the field while the rest of us are fighting against it through policy, recovery, prevention, media, etc. In case you were wondering, yes, this is the same Joe Mazzilli on the hit A&E TV Show, Runaway Squad. He told us about all of the corruption in the NYPD and how they are not doing next to nothing to solve this problem. He proposed his ideas for reform in the systems as well as educated more on how these systems work.
Saturday, all of us NYCUPers went to Chinatown to help with Overseas Chinese Mission’s Street Fair. This local church was providing free health care, games for children, gifts, and food to the community on a whole block of Herald Street. They had over 500 volunteers from many different churches from Chinatown and a few churches from the rest of NYC. They had proxy stations and other ways to share the gospel as well. While about 250 of the volunteers were on the street, the other 250 were in the four story church interceding and praying for what was going on outside. It was one incredible experience. During the street fair, three of us went on a prayer walk around Chinatown to pray for the brokenness that we saw as we walked. It was disturbing to witness the amount of massage parlors that were in operation in Chinatown. To be so close to forced sex slavery and not having the power to shut them down frustrated me tremendously. We turned to God and prayed for the girls that were in oppression right inside the buildings we were passing and it was comforting to know that it is in His hands and that one day Christ will come back and make all things new and right in God’s eyes.
Reader discretion advised for the following paragraph.
After the street fair, I had my first bubble tea, strolled through Little Italy and then headed up to Soho for a “night on the town.” However, God had greater plans than a fun night out. Margaret, Maria, Anahi, and I were cruising down Broadway in Soho and ran into a girl our age sitting on her luggage. Trying our best to live out the gospel at all times of the day, we chose to engage in conversation with her… which ended up being three hours well spent with our new friend Loreal who was 20 years old. We took her to a 24 hour dinner and gave her a banquet. We could have chosen to take her to McDonalds, but we wanted to treat her well. We had just eaten, but we all ate as well to give her a comfortable atmosphere. Loreal grew up in Oklahoma, and her parents split up when she was 15 years old. Her Dad took her brother and her Mom took her. When she was 16, her Mom was busted for a meth lab and after all of the brokenness and abuse she had taken over her 16 years, her and her brother decided to move to LA. After about 2 years there, her brother moved back and she stayed in LA. Unable to support herself, that is when she first became homeless. After 2 years of being homeless in LA, she went back to Oklahoma where her Mom ran her off blaming her for everything. She took the train to NYC and has been here for about 2 months. While in NYC, she has been hopping around from nanny job to nanny job that she found on Craigslist. (Craigslist is a huge hub for traffickers to find vulnerable girls to exploit). While she has not fallen into the trap yet, she told us of all of the emails that she gets from men telling her that they feel sorry for her and that she can stay with them. We tried the best we could to explain to her that as sincere as these anonymous men sound to her, that they are looking to lure her in and give her love, only to pass her off and exploit her. We talked about the weather, TV shows, books, movies, food, gum, and other fun things of the world so that she could feel normal for once in her life. We shared many laughs, told jokes, and had a jolly good time for hours but at the end of the day we all knew that we would have to let her go on her way. Thank goodness, our friend Ruth, who works with a local safe house, was in the neighborhood. She called, and called until she found a bed for Loreal to stay in that night and managed to get Loreal to agree to sleep there for the night. After we found a shelter for Loreal to stay in, she shared with us some poems that she had been writing all her life. These poems were extremely brutal, vivid, descriptive and uncomfortable to read but they were the truth. The poems were truth about the life that she had lived, the truth about the exploitation she had faced in LA, and the truth about the abuse she had gone through in Oklahoma. While these poems were the truth about her life, all of them were asking the question of what else is out there to save her? Now, Loreal said that she wasn’t big on religion, so that is why we chose to share the relationship that she could begin with the most influential humanitarian there ever was: Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. In response to her poems, we shared a poem with her: Psalms 139. She thought that it was beautiful and it truly touched her heart but she could not wrap her head around why Jesus hadn’t proven Himself to her yet. She knew that Christ would one day come back, but she wanted Him to come back NOW. It was so hard for her to understand faith and grace. However, she then told of us of a time when some “higher power – maybe it was Christ” had showed up and saved her. At one point in LA, she was living with a lady who was pregnant and her baby daddy. Her baby daddy was in a gang and was in debt to the drug trade $5,000 dollars. After the house was shot at as a warning early on in the week, Loreal came back to the house that weekend and witnessed with her own eyes the man shooting his girlfriend who was carrying his baby, and then she witnessed himself pulling the trigger to his head. She passed out on the floor in utter shock from what she had just seen and when she woke up she knew that something of a higher power had saved her that day. She knew that the man could have easily shot her too, but something saved her that day. She knew that she was saved for a purpose and a plan. We quickly intervened and told her that Christ was absolutely the force that saved her that day and that he absolutely has a purpose and a plan for her life. We prayed with her for a while before the shelter’s van came to pick her up. We gave her a bible and let the shelter and the Holy Spirit take it from there. Those were the hardest steps I have ever had to take. I could not bear to see Loreal leave. I could not bear to see Loreal head off into the abyss. I could not bear to know that while she was safe for one night, after that it would be her choice to go back on the streets again or to go to local organizations that could house her, clothe her, teach her God’s word, give her job skills, and connect her to job interviews. I wanted so badly to be able to celebrate her upcoming birthday with her. I wanted so badly for her to come live at NYCUP housing. I wanted so badly to see her come to know her Savior. While the first two will not happen, I pray each and every day that God is placing other witnesses to guide her, direct her, and to lead her into His hands. One minute I am very grateful for this encounter that I experienced and the next minute I am sad because of this encounter. I am grateful that I was able to brighten her day and to speak truth into her life but I am sad that she had to go. I am grateful that I was finally able to put a face and an experience on this general problem that our world faces so that it does not seem like too big of a problem to tackle, but I am sad to realize that there are millions of other Loreal’s with an unheard story. I am grateful that I know my God is the God of the rich, the poor, and the homeless. I am grateful that God has his hands on the situation and that one day Jesus will make all things new.
Sunday, we went to Manhattan Bible Church here in Inwood/Washington Heights. This is the church that the NYC Love Kitchen is located and it is the church that the Hope Fair is going to be at on July 14th. I was able to spend some time with God in Central Park reflecting on His beauty, His majesty, and His power. As I ran through the park and stopped to admire some beautiful sites, God gave me peace about the encounter that I had experienced the night before and granted me with courage and boldness to continue seeking out those hard conversations every time I get the opportunity. He filled me up so that I may pour out again this upcoming week.
Peace be with you all wherever you may be.
25 6 / 2012
NYCUP SIP DAYS #5-9
Good morning my dear brothers and sisters, friends and family, donors and prayer warriors,
First of all, I would like to apologize for not sitting down to update everyone recently. There has been so much going on and I have been spending time processing and absorbing it before I sitting down to write you all. If you are reading this, thank you so much for spending the time to care and pray for God’s work in New York City.
Just imagine. Imagine a day where you wake up in a room that is relatively new to you, you eat breakfast with your fellow interns from ALL different walks of life and discuss culture and what is going on at everyone’s internships, you walk to your job Monday through Friday from 10AM-6PM. At your internship, you are working hard to complete several documents, feeding the homeless every Thursday through the pantry or through the daily feeding at 4:30PM. You are having conversations and growing relationships with all kinds of different people that come in to The Love Kitchen with a vast diversity of intricate stories. While walking back home, you see all kinds of devastation and poverty that breaks your heart. You eat an incredible LogOFF dinner with your new friends and are then educated on different injustices throughout the world, spend time in bible study and prayer, read books, blog, journal, hang out in the lounge and goof off, run in the nearby parks, do your laundry at the local laundry mat, or host different influential abolitionists, activist, or missionaries for dinner and hear their stories. On the weekends, you go to huge outreach events in Chinatown or Inwood and reach out to different communities from all sorts of backgrounds, you go to many different kinds of churches in the city and see the wide range of diversity within God’s kingdom here on earth, or you even head downtown to experience the Manhattan that you see on movies.
This, my friends, and SO much more, is the NYCUP experience.
Last Wednesday was the Protest Against The Village Voice and Backpage.com. This protest was such an incredible experience and I truly believe that God used us to proclaim freedom to the captives, to be the voice to the voiceless, and to declare God’s victory over darkness. To save time on writing about the protest, here is a link to an article that was published on CNBC.com about the protest. Please feel free to read, be encouraged, and to pray for the battle against this injustice.
Last Thursday was my first official FULL day at The Love Kitchen.
Thursdays are the busiest days at The Love Kitchen because that is the day that we offer our food pantry too. We feed 250 families a month this way and 100 people a day through our daily feeding. The food pantry was incredible! We had tons of volunteers and it was beautiful to see everyone working together in love and in perfect harmony.
It works like this: The men and women come in with their own bags and shopping carts and they first check in at with a volunteer at the front desk. The volunteer looks at their card to see if this is their specific day of the month to come in and receive food. From there, they are directed to other volunteers who look at their card to see the amount of people in their family. Once they have identified the family size, they lead the men and women down the food isle. The volunteers put the designated amount of rice, pasta, veggies, fruit, juice, milk, etc. into the bags and carts depending on the family size. Before you know it, the men and women have been serviced and are out the door. While some volunteers are placing the foods into the carts, other volunteers are quickly restocking the shelves with more food from tons and tons of boxes, and the other volunteers are breaking down the empty cardboard boxes. It’s super quick, efficient, and sometimes chaotic, but incredibly fun, enjoyable, and rewarding.
After the food pantry is over, we store all of the boxes and shelves away and then bring out the tables to set up for the feeding. Mr. Eddie, our cook, has already prepared the meal for the day, and believe me when I say, he doesn’t skimp! Each meal always consists of the hot meal that Eddie has prepared, two pieces of bread, cookies, and juice. The folks who come in can also take fresh veggies to go and if they are the first 12 to show up, they get a ticket to take an extra hot meal with them. I absolutely LOVE the feeding. Most soup kitchens are not very hospitable in terms of engaging with the people who show up. The Love Kitchen actually operates by bringing the food out to the folks, serving them, caring for them, and loving on them. There is nothing like knowing that God is using you to bring smiles to people’s days. It’s incredible to see their faces light up with joy through very basic hospitality. Some people that come in have not had a conversation all day and are longing for human interaction. They are surprised and baffled when you care enough to actually hear their stories and engage in conversation. I have had some of the most interesting conversations ever. These people are from all over the world and country, have seen so much, been through so much, and somewhere along the way had some misfortunes. They are truly inspiring to me. From the two year old girl, Shante, who brings excitement to the atmosphere, to the man who moved here from NC, to Keisha who used to have a great job in computer information systems but got laid off, to the men from the Dominican Republic who can’t speak English but smile - which is worth a thousand words.
There are so many stories that I would like to share from engaging in conversation with the numerous people that come in each day, but I will continue to build relationships with these new friends and spend time sharing their stories with you eventually one at a time. Sound good? J
Besides the food pantry and the daily feeding, Adri and I will also be doing a lot of admin work.
After 30 years of serving the community, The Love Kitchen needs some more funding to continuing operating for the long haul. During the mornings and afternoons, Adri and I will be creating several different documents to be used to pitch The Love Kitchen to potential donors. I am so excited to be able to have this opportunity. God is so good and so perfect that He placed me in this internship for a specific purpose. I thought I was just going to be feeding and engaging in conversation, but now I will be able to use my college major, Communications Advertising, too. Whoa. Incredible.
To save time, I will copy and paste Adri and I’s jobs while we are here.
1. Please make a 1 page document that explains the vision, mission and goals of the Love Kitchen.
2. Please make a tri-fold brochure that includes the aforementioned information along with a brief history of the Kitchen, Mr. Jones, and the LK’s services. On the back of the brochure, please include the vision.
3. Please make a comprehensive document with photographs that includes how the vision and mission are implemented and list successes. Please include at least 2 things that would have happened but because of lack of resources were not able to be accomplished.
4. Make a powerpoint presentation with a minimum of 15 minutes to present and a maximum of 20 minutes to present.
Please include a script to go with the slides.
5. Edit volunteer manual.
6. Please bring bulletin board and other resources up to date.
7. All of this will be presented at the Hope Fair on. July 14. If not, no worries, please have it complete by July 18 or in a format where someone could pick it up and complete it.
(Adri and I plan on having it done by the Hope Fair).
Friday & Saturday nights
NYC in itself is a hard pill to swallow. I am thinker and if you think too much about how NYC works, you’ll be perplexed beyond comprehension. I am slowly learning to understand that God is mighty and powerful and there is no need for me to truly understand how there can be so much injustice in Inwood and just a short train ride downtown it’s a whole different world. At the same time, both downtown Manhattan and uptown Manhattan need Jesus just as much, because while one neighborhood is poverty stricken the other is stuck in consumerism and self-interest. Whew!
Sorry for the rant, but it WAS awesome to be able to explore downtown this weekend. I went to all of the typical touristy places like Times Square, Rockefeller Center, etc. I even got to check off the #1 item on my bucket list for the past 7 years: watch Wicked on Broadway. I have wanted to come here basically my whole life, so it was a dream come true and a lot of fun.
Sunday we went to an incredible church plant called Christ Crucified Fellowship. We were able to learn about Rich Perez’s story (the pastor) and how he grew up in Inwood and wanted to come back to the community to meet the needs of the area and proclaim the Good News to his home neighborhood. I wish I could take the time to write down every single incredible story, ministry, or terrible injustice that I see, write about how God is working through and in each of the things that I see and experience, but there is just not enough time.
Peace be with you all.
21 6 / 2012
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
20 6 / 2012
NYCUP SIP DAY #4 (Written 6/20/12 - 9:34AM)
Feed 500, Backpage.com Protest & Internship Starts Today
Hello my dear brothers and sisters, friends and family, donors and prayer warriors,
It’s the fourth day and life altering, life changing, brain shattering, incredibly spiritual moments are already happening. Today we went downtown with very hearty bagged lunches for the homeless that we would encounter. The homeless in NYC are treated much like lepers were treated in biblical times. They are viewed as pathetic, useless, and disposable human lives. This is NOT what God wants. God made these beautiful souls in His image and he has a plan, a meaning, and a purpose for these incredible people. Everyone has a story that should be shared. Not everyone has a voice. Some quick stats: there are over 38,000 people living on the streets in NYC alone. God calls us several places in the bible to feed the hungry but I would like to point one of my favorite of MANY of these. Luke 14:12-13, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” God’s plan of ultimate redemption, however, is not for us to feed the poor and then pat ourselves on the back. Food is a basic need that God created. It is also a way to serve and to be a witness of Christ Jesus. For God called us to be His witnesses here on earth when Christ Jesus left us to return again, saying, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20. God calls us to be radical. God calls us to be not of this world. God calls us to SERVE food to SERVE in the most ultimate way: sharing God’s beautiful plan of redemption so that these lives will find hope. Hope and faith that “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” –Revelation 21:4
Now I want to share some stories that we encountered downtown this morning/afternoon of the lives that we saw and touched.
My team of five, (team 2, Elizabeth, Sherin, Melissa, & Audrey), were commissioned to Herald Square at Broadway, Sixth Avenue, and 34th Street. The easiest way to spot if someone is homeless or not is to scope out and see if they have all of their belongings with them, they have irregular hygiene, they are pan-handling, or they have swollen feet from not being able to lie down and sleep (heart breaking), etc. The first time that we walked through the area we did not encounter or spot any homeless men or women. Understanding the power of prayer, the five of us prayed that we would have eyes like that of Christ Jesus to be able to love and care for the ones that God would lead us to. The second time that we walked through we found that there were many homeless in the plaza. We were able to talk to, share our food with, share benefitting information, and definitely pray with a few different people.
I want to highlight two incredible stories in a minute but I will tell you who all we talked to first. Highlighting the fact that everyone has a story, we are all HUMAN. We talked to Francis who came to the city from Ireland and was a Jew. We talked to Perry who got into legal trouble upstate and came to the city to get away and ended up on the streets. These two did not want to talk that much besides a little bit of small talk, but they both thanked us for the food, we gave them some information on places that they could go for shelter and food, and then prayed with them and asked them if there were specific things that they would like prayed for. Then we talked to Jimmy who had such an inspiring faith in Christ Jesus. Jimmy truly encouraged us in His strong, intense relationship with the Lord despite his earthly troubles. He sits almost all day long and he says that He looks up and admires God’s creation every day. Holding on to his hope and faith that one day soon he will be with the Lord and have the best party ever forever and ever. Hearing him talk about his faith, even in his situation, was life altering. Jimmy was also a comedian. He found out that I was from the south and asked me if I liked to fish. He was from the south too and told me that people in the north don’t fish. He joked around and told me that I should teach every one of my new friends to fish so that they could relax their mind, haha! He said that the two most important and relaxing things in life were going to church and fishing. At first, this man was kind of defensive about taking food from us but ended up accepting our gift to him. We all prayed for him, he thanked us immensely, but truly our thanks is to him for such an inspiring story and faith.
My favorite story: Chi-tow & Elisa
God truly showed in our time with Chi-tow. While walking around Herald Square we spotted a small, older lady sitting right in the middle of the square completely being ignored and looked down upon by the rest of the thousands of people passing here every 10 minutes. We felt a strong pull to walk over and have a conversation with her, so we followed the Spirit to where God was leading us, and boy did we discern correctly. We began to talk to Chi-tow and at first the communication was a little bit hard. She did not speak very loudly and had a little bit of an accent. However, we ended up talking to her for at least 30 minutes. We ended up finding out that she came to the city from Vietnam ten years ago. She came with her family to seek out better jobs, etc. in America. The most depressing part of her story was that two years ago, her children and grandchildren moved to Boston and told her that they hated her and did not want to have anything to do with her. Since her family left her two years ago, she has had no contact with them and has been living on the streets. I asked her if we were to find out where her family was if they would take her in or if we were to buy a train ticket to Boston for her if she would go. She responded, saying that her family would not care to see her nor help her out. She was absolutely thrilled when we gained trust with her by giving her food. She looked up and smiled with the biggest, brightest, most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen, even when she only had three teeth left. After giving her some food, she told us that the hospitals would not take her and that she was in pain all the time. We gave her some information cards and made sure that she knew where to go to get to the relief houses. We offered if we could buy her a taxi or walk with her and she thanked us but said that in about 30 minutes, once she was feeling energetic, she knew exactly how to get to the relief house and was super excited to go. We told her that the folks at the house would welcome her with open arms and again, she smiled from ear to ear. Next, we shifted the conversation to the most important things. We asked her if she had ever heard of Jesus, and she responded saying that she used to hear some about Him but did not know too much about Him anymore. We shared with her, God’s ultimate plan of redemption. We told her that God made her in His image and though the world ignored her, both us and God thought she was absolutely stunningly beautiful. Again, she smiled from ear to ear. We told her how God cared for her, loved her, and wants the absolute best for her: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That one day God will wipe every tear from her eye and that there will be no more suffering. We gave her a bible that she was excited to start reading and pointed her in the right direction with that. We prayed with her for about 10 more minutes and she squeezed our hands and again had the biggest smile on her face that I have ever seen. I only trust that God will move in her and work in her and ultimately call her to His kingdom. We can only plant the seed, the Spirit waters it, Christ died for it, and God grows it into a beautiful, live plant blossoming with fruit.
Now, the whole time that we were talking to Chi-tow, there was a middle aged, sharp, African-American, business woman eating her lunch about 7 feet away. The whole time that we were talking to Chi-tow she was eating her salad extremely slow and kept looking back at us. It was a little bit distracting at times because it seemed to us that she was judging us harshly and thinking that we were absolutely stupid, crazy out of our minds to be talking to Chi-tow and to be caring about her salvation. However, once we got up and were walking away from Chi-tow, the lady called us over to her. Her name was Elisa and she absolutely broke down and burst in to tears. She started talking about how Chi-tow could be her own mother but her own mother was fine. Her kids were provided for, there was food on her table, she had a safe home, a roof over her head, nice clothes, etc. At this point, tears were falling down her face and she was asking what ministry we are involved in and how she can give back to the community and serve God in new ways. Whoa! We had no idea that that was why she was looking at us the whole time. She told us that she had absolutely no idea why she sat there for lunch except for the fact that God placed her there at the exact right time to witness what we were doing, to change her heart about the people she walks by every day, and to turn her heart around to give back. We told her that we were with New York City Urban Project, got her email address, and told her that we would have Jonathan contact her immediately once we got back. She asked if we could pray with her and we prayed bold prayers for her and her life. Once we left, we turned around and SHE WAS THEN TALKING TO CHI-TOW CONTINUING THE RELATIONSHIP AND THE WORK THAT WE HAD STARTED. We walked by that area only 5 minutes later and both of them were gone. I only hope and pray that Elisa took her in or took Chi-tow in her car or a taxi to a safe place for Chi-tow. GOD IS GOOD!
After Feed 500, we took the F Train down to The Village to have lunch at BareBurger to continue LogOFF and being good stewards of our resources. Buying and eating local, organic, green, fair trade, and slave free. Not supporting the system to protest against the injustices in the world in our work places and production places. Next we handed out flyers and had conversations in the village about our protest tomorrow against Backpage.com in front of The Village Voice (a newspaper).
I want to invite you once again into prayer and intercession for the work that God is doing in this city. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” God’s work is already done, we are just invited to join alongside of Him. We are not trying to be angry and cause problems at this protest, for we are not fighting against people of this world. We are fighting against demonic forces that rule the decisions that people make to continue to make our world a more broken and destructive place. We will be protesting against the legalization of sex trafficking and prostitution Wednesday, 6/20 at 5PM. We will not sit down and let this issue be unaddressed. We will stand up for freedom and for the captives to be set free. Prostitution is almost NEVER, EVER a choice. Prostitution is not an empowering job for women. Women do not CHOSE to be sex workers. Pray for this protest to make a huge impact on this issue. Pray that the four survivors of captivity will move hearts on this issue with their testimonies. Pray that Jonathan’s poem will soften people’s hearts. Pray that the media and the news stations will portray this issue correctly. For more information on the protest, go here: http://nycurbanproject.com/event/catw-pres-backpage-protest-june-20-save-the-date/
Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recover sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Last night we watched one incredible documentary on sex trafficking called Nefarious. If you are confused about what I mean when I am talking about all of these oppressors and oppressed, the sex slaves, or the truth about prostitution.. or even if you think you know everything about sex trafficking, I encourage you to please, please watch this documentary and educate yourself about this injustice. Ignorance is not an excuse. Indifference is not an option. We must stand up in the name of the Lord about this human rights issue. This film will instill anger inside of you at first, but the end of the film leaves you with HOPE. It gave me hope and faith for the first time since I was presented with this injustice. Abolishing this issue IS possible. For with enough faith we can move mountains, with enough faith the oppressed can be set free!
The protest is today at 5PM! Please, please be praying.
Also, internships start today. I will be going to The Love Kitchen for the first time!
Peace be with you all.
18 6 / 2012
NYCUP SIP DAY #3
Hello friends and family,
It is the middle of day three here on the corner or Isham and Seaman. The city is awesome and I love this neighborhood. Most would hate it, but I love the noise. I love the fact that I can hear car horns, music playing, and people talking at all times. It’s exciting, it’s refreshing, and it’s lively. I love the fact that I can walk a block away and get some food. I love the fact that there are two parks right across the street that offer a ton of nature. The city the lively and bubbly but it’s not all fun and games. There is so much brokenness and devastation at my fingertips and in the surrounding community. When God created the earth, it was good. When sin entered the world, devastation came. When Jesus came to earth and conquered sin and death, new life and restoration was made possible. Despite the devastation immediately surrounding me here, new life is coming, restoration is possible.
Jonathan Walton headed up orientation and one intense talk this morning. Let me first break down in a nut shell just all that we will be doing here. There are 30 students and staff from all over the country and even some from other countries. We will all participating in different internships Monday through Friday, however, there is so much more that we will be doing on top of our internships. Let me first break down the internships.
LOGOFF: The LogOFF team will be learning how to be good stewards of the resources that God has given us. They will be buying products and cooking food for us that is local, organic, green, fair trade, and slave free and not consuming meaningless items and are convenient and easy. Buying local to sustain the local community. Buying organic to support sustainable agriculture and agriculture that is as close to the way God created it to be as possible. Buying green to sustain the earth that God gave us. Buying fair trade to protest against the corruption of all of the labor systems and oppressed workers. Buying slave free to protest against modern day slavery.
Price of Life: The New York City Price of Life Invitational scheduled for fall 2013 is a unique city-wide campaign addressing human trafficking and child sex slavery. Price of Life interns will be planning for the events in the fall of 2013.
Operation Exodus: All of the government funded afterschool programs have been cut from the education system in NYC. When kids are bored.. bad things happen. When kids are not tutored.. the education system begins to lack. Operation Exodus is the largest and longest running tutoring system in NYC located at a church in Washington Heights. Operation Exodus interns will be working and playing with kids throughout the summer. Shining Christ’s love in their life and teaching them basic education skills.
The Love Kitchen: I am interning with The Love Kitchen with one other intern, Audriana Garcia from the Mexico/Texas border. Mr. Jones has been serving the Inwood/Washington Heights district for over 25 years. It is the last soup kitchen above 120th street. Audriana and I will be working in this largely Dominican and Spanish speaking community (thank goodness Audriana speaks Spanish!). Our internship will be M-F from 10 or 11AM-5PM. During the beginning of the day we will be working to create a new computer system to better provide for the community. Creating ID cards with pictures on them for those who wish to come and receive food. In the afternoon, we will be preparing food for over 100 people a day where dinner is served at 4PM. Every Thursday we will be working their food pantry which serves 250 families every month.
Capture NYCUP: Capture NYCUP is comprised of 2 photographers and 1 journalist. They will be working to “Capture NYCUP”. You can follow their work and see just all that we are doing in the city at http://nycurbanproject.com/.
Nomi Network: Two interns will be working with this non-profit organization. The Nomi Network currently serves women in South and South East Asia. They are dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty that is caused by human trafficking globally. The Nomi Network creates jobs for women who are survivors and at risk of being trafficked. Nomi Network manufactures our signature Buy Her Bag, Not Her Body products, which are sold in the U.S. to raise funds and awareness of trafficking. Proceeds from the sale of these bags provide wages, healthcare, and training for the “Nomi’s” we serve in South and South East Asia.
Hope Fair: The last internship is The Hope Fair. They will be talking to doctors and medical professionalism throughout the city to plan for an all-day event that will be held at Manhattan Bible Church in Inwood at the end of these six weeks. The Hope Fair will be all day long and will provide free health care tips, checkups, health information, and a LogOFF dinner at night for anyone who wishes.
CRAZY AWESOME RIGHT?!? Freedom is coming!!!
Here are some other things that we will be doing:
Monday nights: We will be having dinner and a documentary. We will be learning about really hard topics and discussing what Christians should do about them, such as: Food, (Food Inc.), Sex Trafficking, Immigration, Education, Gender roles, etc.
Tuesday nights: We will be hosting influential people from different organizations throughout the city to discuss these hard topics as well.
Wednesday nights: These will be our free nights to relax, spend lots of time with God, explore the city, be in community, etc.
Thursday nights: We will have our small groups where we will be going through Isaiah.
Friday nights: We will have an In or an Out option. An in option to be with community and further relationships through games, movies, etc. and and Out option (what I will always chose) to explore the city, watch movies, etc. to build community.
Saturdays: We will have events such as Feed 500, NYCUP Alumni BBQ, The Hope Fair, Courtney Wong’s Album Release Party, etc.
Sundays: We will go to church (obviously), sometimes have lunch with the leaders of the church, and then have free time, reflection time, family time, etc. for the rest of the day.
We will also be participating any many other events scattered throughout the six weeks here.
For example: This Wednesday we will be joining a protest against Backpage.com’s Facilitation of Sex Trafficking in front of its CATW’s New York City Office! The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women in partnership with Prostitution Research and Education (PRE) and other co-sponsors will hold their second protest in front of the Village Voice building at the New York City office of Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC (VVM), owner of Backpage.com. This protest will bring attention to Backpage’s ongoing facilitation of and profiting from sex trafficking.
God is good and faithful and I am so excited to see transformation in this city this summer!
Peace be with you all.
18 6 / 2012
I am not sure if I will stay this detailed the entire duration of this trip, but here is my first blog post. It is very long, I know, but there is just SO, SO, SO much going on here that I could hardly contain myself. PS. I excuse any grammatical errors you may find. Also, it’s been three days but so much has happened already that my mind is quite blown so I hope that all of this makes some bit of sense. It is day #3 now and I wrote the following post last night. More to come soon! Peace be with you all.
NYCUP SIP DAY #1-2
As many of you know, I have always had a strong desire to come to the city. My love for this city first started when I started doing youth theatre in middle school. My friend Mychal had participated in the same youth theatre group as me (Lexington Youth Theatre) and was then studying at NYU hoping to end up performing on Broadway. Continuing in theatre, this became my dream as well. I wanted nothing more than to see my name in lights on all of the marquees down on Broadway. (Cliché, I know). Later in my progression in life, I realized that theatre was not the right avenue for me. This decision came into place for several reasons, many being about the culture that I would be immersed in and a lot to do with the chances of actually making it on Broadway. From there, I shifted to my next idea for career options. This one I have stuck with thus far. I am majoring in Advertising, with a minor in Marketing with a creative emphasis at Appalachian State University. I just completed my freshman year and I have been accepted to the Communications Department. In high school, I chose this career option because of the creativity that it provides and the options of living that it offers. My new dream was to come to New York City after college. I wanted to work in an Advertising Firm until I had gained enough savings to open up some sort of coffee shop in a low-income area to provide jobs and do ministry there OR to open one in a high-income area with baristas being strictly volunteer where all proceeds go to some ministry in a low-income area.
I found NYCUP SIP (New York City Urban Project – Summer Immersion Project) by searching on Google last November. I knew that I wanted to do missions work in the city this summer and when I found this program God opened so many doors to allow me to seek justice in HIS name in the Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods of Manhattan. This summer is not only a project that allows me to share the gospel and see lives transformed; it is also kind of like a test run that could perhaps lead to sharing the gospel and seeing transformation in this city for the rest of this earthly life.
The night of June 15th was my last night in good ol’ southern Thomasville, NC. It was the last night with my dear family who have raised me in a loving Christ-like community. We ate dinner together that night, did some last minute packing, watching someone walk across Niagara Falls, and to celebrate ate Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Ice Cream which by the way is Fair Trade and supports Greystone Bakery. (Side note: Greystone Bakery is a missional bakery in New York that provides jobs for the homeless and was a huge inspiration for A New Creation Bakery (which currently operates at The Love Kitchen (where I am interning) until their new storefront opens in January 2013)). Then before we went to bed before the big day, my whole family prayed over me and the trip. That was such an encouraging and uplifting moment in my life – one that I will never forget.
I woke up yesterday (Sat, June 16th) at 5:45AM, anxious and ready to see what the Lord had in store for this summer. My flight left at 9:05AM from Charlotte, NC and was a direct flight to LaGuardia. At LaGuardia, I decided to get some coffee, eat a Boone Bar from back home, and dive into the Word before meeting the rest of the crew. After some intense time with Jesus, I embarked on my first adventure on NYC’s public transportation (which by the way, is super easy to learn and super fun). I took the M60 bus to St. Nicholas Ave. and from there took the A train uptown to 207 St. and Isham. Hopped of the subway, walked up the stairs, and ran into the only other student that I had talked with in advance before coming. From there, we walked up Isham less than a block away from the Metro and arrived at our destination (630 Isham St.). We are staying at an old Catholic Convent (how cool, right?!) We were met by Jonathan (the project director), Mike (director of logistics), Megan (staff over LOGOFF) and Michelle (staff over the Hope Fair). They greeted us with a warm smile and directed us to our rooms for the summer. The room is quite nice! There are two beds right next to each other, one for me and one for my roommate Jaryd, one 4 drawer dresser, 1 closet and a chair. It’s suite style so we share a bathroom with one other room just like ours. The building is five stories. The first floor is where I am staying. There are bedrooms on that floor, a very large kitchen where the LOGOFF team will be cooking for everyone, a big room that everyone eats in, and a lounge where we hang out a lot in. On the second floor there are more bedrooms and also on the second floor is a beautiful chapel that is a designated place to have quite time with the Lord. There is also a library on the second floor where there are close to 50 some books that we can read while we are here and also a prayer wall where we can post praises and requests that come up. The third and fourth floors are just bedrooms and the basement has one room that we use for gatherings and what not.
After unpacking, Mike took the first wave of students to a BBQ Picnic at River Bank Park that was being held by Christ Crucified Fellowship which we will go to next Sunday. It is one of the few missional churches in the Washington Heights neighborhood. We took the 1 train downtown to get there. As we travelled, I began to form relationships with some of the other students. The coolest thing about Intervarsity is the fact that it is so diverse. I’ve met new friends from Korea, Texas, Virginia, California, Upstate New York, New Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Long Island, Nebraska, etc. It is not just diverse in the fact that we are from many different locations on the map, but the fact that we are of many different ethnicities. Incredible. Arriving at the park, we ate some good food, continued conversations with each other, as well as met folks from the church.
That night we came together back at the Convent to worship our Lord and Savior (the reason why we are all here, the reason why we all came together). That first worship night was one of the most incredible moments in my life. Gosh, so much has happened in such a short period of time – I feel like my mind is blown and it’s only been two days. It was beautiful how people of so many different backgrounds came together and worshiped the exact same God. God is faithful and the same for everyone in the whole world no matter what language you speak. He truly spoke to me last night and broke me down during our time of worship.
After worship, we came back upstairs to have some snacks (local carrots & organic hummus – yum). There we continued to build relationships and form new friendships before heading off to bed.
This morning Jaryd and I woke up at 9:30AM cause breakfast started at 9:45AM. We had church at 10:30AM in the Convent. We had some great worship led by Courtney Wong and then watched a video of a speaker at Urbana ’09 talk about prayer. After this incredible message on prayer, all 30 of us prayed bold prayers for the city, for change, for peace, for trust, for supplication, for forgiveness, for holiness, for love, for transformation, for lives to be changed in the name of our savior Jesus Christ. The Spirit moved and led us in church for 3 hours and all of us did not even realize it had been that long.
We had lunch for the first time in the community. Audrey and I who will be interning with The Love Kitchen, the three interns with Capture NYCUP (Photography and journalism to “Capture NYCUP”), and Jonathan and Courtney all went to a Dominican restaurant. Inwood is predominately Spanish speaking so Audrey helped us order some delicious, very ethnic food – we had plantains like I had in Honduras last summer. After lunch and experiencing just how different Inwood is from downtown Manhattan, we had a scavenger hunt in Inwood and the Heights to get to know the neighborhoods a little bit better. After the scavenger hunt, we came back for dinner where we hosted Jonathan’s bosses’ boss. (Director of New York and New Jersey and his wife who is the Director of NYC). He was from Massachusetts and she came here from the Philippines at a very early age. They had two sweet young daughters. It was amazing to hear their testimonies, especially his. He had come to NYC with high hopes of being on Broadway. In fact, he was a professional actor for about 10 years until God called him to the ministry. He started in Brooklyn where he and his roommate invited homeless into their house on a regular basis. Now he lives in the Heights with his family, despite how dangerous it may seem. He sees so many broken lives, broken educations systems, sex trafficking and it breaks his heart every single day. This is why he chooses to live his life on earth in this location. He knows that glamour and safety are not important in this life because this life is only a minute to the glory that awaits us afterwards. He lives his life in this community because he wants others to share the same hope that he has and to see many lives transformed and renewed in Christ’s name. This man was one of the biggest inspirations to me. His life reflects that of mine almost to a tee. It is the second day, but I am pretty sure that God is definitely calling me to this city after college like I have been feeling in some form for the past seven years.
There is so much more that I would like to say, but I have got to get some rest. It’s 11:00PM and I will be waking up at 8:30AM tomorrow morning. There will be much more to come.
29 5 / 2012
Many stamps, many letters, many conversations, lots of prayer.. 34 donations later and 1 fundraiser with over 40 attendees.. I have surpassed my goal of $2500 with abundance!! God is faithful and you guys have blessed me immensely.
22 5 / 2012
22 5 / 2012
20 5 / 2012
27 days until I leave!
I had a conference call with the project director, staff and other students the other day. I can now tell you a lot more about the trip!
I will be living in and working in the Washington Heights and Inwood Area of New York City (towards the top of Manhattan).
I will be staying at a house that the Church of the Good Shepard owns.
630 Isham Street
New York, NY 10034
There are 30 some other students and staff from all over the country that will be participating in many different internships.
These incude: Anti-Trafficking, Nomi Network, LoGOFF, Hope Fair, Education, Feeding the Homeless, and Media.
—I will be working at my internship with one other student on the trip. We’ll be at The Love Kitchen from about 10AM-6PM everyday during the week. This non-profit feeds 100 people every day for dinner at 5PM and also has a food pantry which supplies food for 250 families per week. We will be going around in area and having conversations with people in the community about needs that they have that The Love Kitchen could possibly meet. We will also be spreading the word about the place to be able to reach and help out as many people as possible. One of the staff workers will also be making a website for the organization. They are also going to be opening a bakery in January which will provide jobs for people in the community! I am sure that there will be a lot of work to do for the bakery and the meals at 5PM will also need to be prepared.
—At night, all 30 of us will come back together to have workshops, times of prayer, bible studies, speakers, and documentaries.
—On the weekends we will have time to rest, go to church, participate in special events, free time, etc.
24 4 / 2012
One week ago today, I realized that I was not taking enough time to prepare my heart, mind, and soul spiritually for this summer. I was getting caught up in all of the logistics of the trip, fund raising, and getting bogged down with all of the details.
While these are all good and necessary things to be working on, God really just showed me that I needed to slow down, relax, and focus on Him.
Our God is a jealous God and for that, I thank Him immensely. This trip is not about me, what I will be doing, or who I will be in contact with. It is all about Him. Without His Son Jesus there would be no hope in my life and no hope to share with the broken in New York City.
This past Sunday, I went to an gathering of people in the name of Jesus to proclaim our Love for him, to praise His name, to pray for our campus, to confess our doubts, our struggles, and our worries. It was time of free expression and worship through art, music, dance, prayer, and scripture.
Through my recently intense quite times and gatherings with His people, God has really reminded me that it is NOT about me and ALL about Him.
I am ready to proclaim the gospel, by means of a basic need, to the lost, the broken, and the weary. I am ready for the Holy Spirit to guide me in what ever way to see lives restored, renewed, and given hope through Christ Jesus the Lord and Savior.
In regards to fund raising, the Lord has overwhelmed me with blessings and a total of $1733 out of $2500 raised. The generosity of God’s people has surely shown forth as many surprises have shown up along the way. I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart whom have contributed by any means, whether through general interest, prayer, encouraging words, or charitable donations. I have not given a single worry to the small $767 left to raise because I have full confidence that the Lord will provide.