A Glimpse of Mi Vida...

It started with a missions trip to Camden, where my life and perspective were changed and where this blog began. Life has been a roller coaster filled with its ups and downs and I'm excited for the adventure and discovering what God has in store, even though I really dislike roller coasters... I am a Lady in Waiting...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

My first week in Camden, New Jersey

Dear Friends and Family,

Wow! It has sure been a crazy time so far and I only just left on Tuesday morning and so much has happen already.


My team and I met at Azusa Pacific University (my school) at 3:30am and we were all on time which was such a shock for us because we are usually never on time. We left school all packed up in two vehicles shortly after 4am and headed for LAX. Our flight was set to leave at 7:05am and on the way to the airport there was some slight delay. One of the vehicles (not the one I was in) got a flat tire on the 605 freeway, so our team arrived at the airport about 45 minutes after 6 of us had arrived. As one of my team members had said, “Satan, isn’t really clever”… a flat tire was the best that he could do. Really now?! {However, there was more… keep reading on}. So once they arrived we began to check in to get our boarding pass and then proceeded to the line to go through security. One of the girls on our team had her name spelt wrong on her ticket, instead of Faber is was Saber, so she was flagged as a flight risk and had to get her bags specially checked as well as going through special security. As much as a nu sense as it was, I guess it is good that the airports are so secure. So much that I did not realize that you cannot have anything in your carry-on that is over 3oz, and you have to take your shoes off and have identification in hand at all times. A lot has changed since I last travel by plane in 2005. With twenty minutes to spare we were all seated on the plane- the very tiny plane. I’ve never flown domestic and so the plan was quite tiny, that’s for sure. Two aisles of thee seats each, so our team took up three rows but we were all seated next to each other which was great.

We arrived in Cincinnati at about 2:30pm (their time) and had about a two and a half hour layover, in which we had lunch and called loved ones. We had to take a tram to travel from one terminal to the next concourse, which was quite cool because I have never done that before. We went to lunch in shifts in the airport, so my half went first and we went to this little Mexican place in the airport which was essentially just like Chipotle back home. Afterwards, I just hung out with the team and made some personal phone calls and sat on the floor in this little exclusive spot and talked. Finally we landed in Philadelphia at about 6:30pm and went to go claim our luggage except one thing was missing. One of my pieces of luggage, my duffle bag was not with all of our luggage. So I went to the little Delta luggage claim and so they said they would look for my luggage and of course this happen to me because I opened my mouth about Satan. But I know that God will provide.

After sorting out the problem with my missing luggage, we waited outside the terminal where we were picked up the “orange” bus of Urban Promise. Also joining us waiting was another intern who had just arrived in and he is from London, well actually he goes to school in Scotland. Still that is really cool having people from all around the world. Later I found out that we have several people from England and Scotland, two even live in the house I’m staying in.

My house is so cool because the structure and size of the house is incredible and it is my home for the next seven weeks. Houses on the East Coast are so different; they are tall and skinny and have many flights of stairs depending which part of New Jersey you are in. My house is orange and it is three stories, plus we have a basement. I am on the third floor and the walk of the stairs in more like a trek because they are just so steep. I have a window with a view and am sleeping on the bottom of a bunk bed in a room with four girls, two of which are on mattresses on the floor. The weather here is just so hot and humid, we definitely sleep with the windows open and have fan practically blowing in our faces all night long.

The first night for me was so overwhelming just because of my luggage turning up missing and then finding out that I am living in downtown Camden, the toughest part of the city and so I’ll be working with the older and tougher kids in a tough neighborhood. So I will be working at Camp Grace which is in this gorgeous church in Northern Camden (downtown) and the church reminds me of being home, it reminds me of the old church just by the structure and the light fixtures. I think mostly the emotional overwhelming ness was from just the lack of sleep since I had only slept maybe five hours if I was lucky and had been traveling all day. Besides my prayers before I went to bed, a great thing is that I can see the Benjamin Franklin Bridge from my window as well as a state building, which is so beautiful because it is all lit up at night!

Please pray for the safe deliverance of my luggage and the safety and closeness on my housemates.


Last night I was the first one to go to bed, I went to bed at about 10:30pm East Coast Time (so only 7:30pm, the family’s time) and randomly woke up at about 5am here and was awake for some odd reason for about 40minutes (odd just considering the time difference) and then work up at about 7:30am to get ready to head over with the house to the main headquarters.

My house consists of 12 people and one bathroom (yup! That’s right! ONE!!!). So getting in and out is kind of difficult and seeing who’s in the shower and such and which people like to shower in the morning, afternoon, or evening. I am staying in a little bit bigger room and we have four girls in my room including myself. My bunk mate is from England and she goes to school in Scotland, as well. Her name is Adele, which is such a pretty name and it reminds me of my mom because their names are similar. Then I am also living with one of the associate directors for Camp Saved (the other camp people living with us) and then another girl, who is from Virginia. Leann, my team leader from APU, is in the conjoining room next door and also LJ from my team in our house as well. So we have four boys in the house and eight girls, it’s the normal ratio that I am used to at APU!

The night and morning are just so hot and humid and you feel so stick and gross, but they definitely try to keep up hydrated and well fed at the headquarters which is were we do most of our training. In the morning we did some studying and learning about the history of the city of Camden and that was with Dr. Bruce Main, the director of the camp who I have mentioned before. He is a grad of Azusa Pacific and so what we learned is about how Camden and the children became so poor. Several years ago the city was even taken over by the state because it was in such bad condition. In order to build more revenue they began to build prisons and sewage or waste compiles, as well as big factories that just created dirty smoke in the air of Camden, physically and metaphorically speaking. He also discussed how the air quality was so bad that over time they noticed that people who lived in Camden had darker skin because of the condition of the air. Like I have mentioned before, Camden is the City of Children, with 50% making up ages 25 and under. This is what make my work so exciting in some sense of the word, is that I’ll be working with those children.

Later in the day, we met Albert our director for Camp Grace (he was in one of the Camden videos, “Life on Film: Bruce Main”) and went with us to see our camp site. Our campsite is beautiful like I described and does remind me of being back home. We took several tours through the church, it has two stories plus a basement. We’ll be doing opening program upstairs and then serving breakfast for the kids in the conjoining art and bible rooms. Hodge podge is upstairs as well and then recreation is in a local park if the police will let us use it, the park used to be beautiful a few years ago and then just became this dump where there is trash a graffiti everywhere. We walked around the neighborhood a bit, Albert lives just a few blocks from where we are teaching and so he knows the area and the kids really well. He is also greatly watching out for us because in Camden, we are the minority. The only reason that white people are ever is Camden in for drugs and so there is a great possibility that we will be hasseled by the cops for being in the neighborhood, it happened last year to a few interns. After walking about we went back to the camp and brainstormed, we decided what everyone will be doing for at least for first week. I will be teaching art with Andy for the first week and then we’ll rotate about the subjects, but I don’t think I want to do recreation just because of my back and working with others kids may be strenuous. However, if I need to I will because I have God’s strength and he will protect me while I serve.

One returning to the camp it got crazy… our directors set up a game of SURVIVOR: INTERN. We were to play several games and each camp that one a round got an amenity then all of the camps remaining faced off. Before even starting we already lost a member, our associate director (Chris) of our camp sliced part of his finger off cutting the camp color bandanas for the race. (Just a little part, he was fine a few days later once the bleeding stopped).


1) Run around the four buses parked in the parking lot (they were in a loose rectangle) with your team, if another team tags you then you’re team is out. The catch is your carrying a square shelf while you’re doing so.
We lost!

2) The whole team most run around each bus once and then proceed to run through it. We did not when this one, but we did when a prize because one of our girls got hurt. Jess wanted to win so she powered through the buses and when she ran through the little red one she hit her head, like most of us did, but she hit it hard because she was going so fast to win for us. Little did she realize that when she was done, blood was beginning to drip down her forehead and then beginning to pour. So we ended up taking her to the hospital with Chris and she had to get five staples in her head. And Chris ended up getting just bandaging around his finger until the bleeding stopped. But we did win a mini golf trip payed for by Urban Promise for our team.

3) Was a bobbing for apples and shrimp… gross for the shrimp. I think that’s the one we got our amenity.

4) We did a scavenger hunt in the basement, lost that as well.

5) We did a trying to knock the other team out. There were three cups for each time set up and so you had to knock all three of their cups down to win and one member from each team would be the chance to kick the soccer ball. We lost.

Eventually, we got into the final three. Then to the final two where we had three different points and had to ride a bike to… well, we won for Jess and Chris!

We won a luxury box for our team (we’re trying to see if we can take our house) to go to one of the minor league games in the area.

Later we got back to the house after a Wal-Mart run (it was had to not get a lot because my luggage had still not arrived and I wanted to get the stuff I knew I had, but I was still hoping and praying for a miracle) and had a house meeting, after I took a glorious shower! and discussed stuff a schedule for the bathroom and for getting ready.


Thursday was such an amazing day.

We had some meetings and group activities in the morning about different scenarios and rules working with the kids and had a question and answer period with some of the kids and then we went back to our sight and brainstormed like crazy. We came up with our theme and verses and lesson plans and decorations and then we’ll work with the StreetLeaders to decorate. The StreetLeaders are kids who have been through the program and are in high school now and they are paid to help us in the classroom with the kids.

Afterwards, we went back to the headquarters to meet up with all the other camps because we were going to go on a “Wacky Tour” of Camden and Philadelphia. I must say that:


Before leaving they laid down some more rules, like no dating. Which was funny because it was kind of a cheesy and a little awkward turtle status when they gave us the talk, but I believe that most of here are not here to find love.

So we began and our wacky tour and it was basically just a progressive dinner to some of our leaders houses and then a mini tour through Philly. We also got to have dinner at Moochie’s house, she was the girl featured in the 20/20 Camden video I had shown at my dinner. I also had water ice for the first time, which like a snow cone but the flavor is already mixed and taste so much better. Philly was fun because we went to the “Rocky Steps”, from the Rocky movie. By the time we arrived there is had already been raining for about half an hour, so all the interns hopped out of the bus and ran down the steps and then to the Rocky statue and then back up the stairs. So I did it just like in the movie, kind of… and a little slower to ensure I wouldn’t slip and fall. Next we went to the “Love Fountain”, which is this huge fountain in Philadelphia and so we all got off the bus and jumped in. It was amazingly fun and a little cold and I forgot my cell phone was in my pocket, so it got a little wet and stopped working. A few of the guy interns also through Tony (one of the camp directors in because it was his birthday) and intern director Brent also jumped in. We got on the bus and proceeded back to UP Headquarters, but a few of us APU people did manage to give Aaron a huge wet huge since he decided not to get off the bus to jump in the fountain. Haha.


All of the interns had breakfast together and we had a few meetings and then we were split up into the choir and then everyone else. Everyone else played some sports and games while the choir rehearsed. I joined the choir- the Urban Promise International Choir. I am singing soprano and surprisingly have gotten to a few compliments about me voice also seven of the nine APU interns are in the choir, so it is a great way to see each other at least once a week. We learned two songs and did quite well, especially the boys because they sounded so strong considering we only had four of them. Afterwards we met up with our street leaders and did some camp learning about our positions and more rules and also played some get to know you games. Then we ate afterwards a few of us (8) went to a concert in Philadelphia with our choir director and Josh, the events director. We went because we thought it was going to be a Chaka Kahn, but Mr. Johnson (our choir director) had gotten the date mixed up, Chaka would be coming the next day. We ended up staying because it was a gospel show and it was so much fun. A few of us even began dancing and got some people were quite impressed, haha. Three of us even managed to get like 7 free pretzels for the group from a vender. We had such an enjoyable time and the girls of the choir want me to choreograph some moves to do for a song and surprise our director with. It’ll be quite fun!

OH!!! Also my phone is working now, it just needed to be dried out basically.


We worked almost all day at our camp cleaning and setting up for camp to start the following week. The street leaders were there for half of the day, but we did quite a lot done by the end of the day. I hope to post pictures of that soon. So we worked at camp from about 8:30 until 5pm and then we headed over to Bruce Main’s house. If you remember he is our executive director of Urban Promise. We got to Bruce’s and went swimming (I ended up reading by the pool and had an amazing conversation with Chelsea. We then had some great food for dinner and then we had a commissioning service with all the interns and directors and Bruce- he preached a bit and prayed over us. His words and stories are so amazing and then we did a prayer circle and hung out a bit and we also watch a baseball game, the old “campers” and the new ones (interns)… the old folk won. Haha. Afterwards we headed back to camp and then Brent took us to Target to go shopping for clothes for choir.

We walked into Target and shortly after we heard the announcements that we had 15 minutes before the store was to close at 9pm. Crazy! So we all rushed through the store basically and the boys all bought the same outfit, which was cute. Or as Hugh (one of the guys on choir, who is from England) said that they would all look “smart”. {So imagine that, but in a British accent}. We then went back to our separate houses and eventually went to bed.

Also a funny story, my friend had called me right after we were leaving the camp and I told him I’d call him later and so I called him back when we got home from Target and I had called and was talking about how I had just gotten home and then he became confused and was like, I thought you were in New Jersey. No, silly Trix are for kids meaning you. Just kidding. No silly, my home for the next three weeks.


Was such a fun and amazing day, but it was also quite exhausting. We had to be ready for church super early because we were going to be singing in Ocean City, New Jersey and so Leann and I both got up at about 5:10am and showered and were ready when the bus came a 6:15am and then we joined the rest of the choir and had breakfast at UPH and then headed for Ocean City, NJ which is about a little over an hour away. Not all the choir fit in the same van, but most of us were in my van with a few others in other vehicles, but we practiced our two songs almost the whole way and also learned a new song. It is very difficult to sing the soprano part that early in the morning.

We arrived at the church and had about 45 minutes to practice and so we song with a few more of the choir people and then we sang at two church services. The main sanctuary there was so beautiful, I’ve discovered that a majority of the church are quite large, amazingly beautiful, and structurally and architecturally gorgeous, I hope my church back home will soon be similar once it is completed. We then went to a host house where they fed us the most amazing food, home-made fried chicken and apple sauce with a few other yummy items. They have a house right on the water which was so beautiful. A strange thing is that the beaches in New Jersey are almost all privately owned by the city/state, or are owned by randomly rich people. So you have to pay to use those beaches, we got passes from the mayor to go on the beach, which I didn’t. A group of us just walked the boardwalk, which is three miles long and is so much better than any boardwalks in California. We had also been given passes for the rides on the boardwalk, so we went on a few of those and walked around before meeting up to head back to our hosts house to get ready for our evening performance, which was a the Tabernacle Church. The main reason for singing at the Tabernacle was because Urban Promise was doing fundraising and also Dr. Tony Campolo was speaking, which was just amazing to hear him speak again. Afterwards, we hung out for a bit after the service and then we headed back to Camden. It did take us quite a long time to get back because we were all so exhausted and by the time we got hope it was a little after 11pm and we were all exhausted.

Below, Dr. Tony Campolo and myself at the Tabernacle.

some of the choir above at our host house.

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