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...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mixed emotions keeping up once again... so just LOVE...

It’s 1am…

I’ve been having trouble going to bed at a reasonable time lately… but that’s not the purpose of my writing. I am still learning and processing everything that happenened in Camden not only recently, but from last year. I have learned so much about God and myself within the past year and have changed my views about of lot of things and I have tried to become a new and better person because of the people I’ve met and the things I’ve learned.

I’m sitting here in the home I’ve lived in for six years now. In Southern California where I’ve spent my whole life… where I was born, raised, have grown up, and just where I have created a lot of memories… yet… I feel at a loss. At times I feel like a huge part of me is missing and that piece is back in Camden. It’s crazy that I feel so much love in a place that is 3,000 miles away. Sometimes I just want to cry out of sadness and loneliness and then sometimes I want to cry praises and joys for everything. I think that Camden broke me and there are bits and pieces of me that are still broken, yet Camden also filled that brokenness with so much love. It filled it with God’s love… his unconditional, steadfast love. He taught me how to love… to love myself, him, my kids, and just complete strangers. I’ve mentioned the community of Camden in a few of my blogs and maybe the words on this page could not bring justification to the joy I’ve felt because of that love. Listen to my words and look at me as I talk about this love and you’ll see my face light up, I’ve heard people tell me that, but I can feel the joy in my face… if that even makes sense.

I am experiencing a culture shock which is weird to even say because I did mission work in the United States. I love my life. I lived a very blessed life, but another part of me feels heartache for my kids who hear gunshots at night or don’t know what they are going to eating; my kids who live in a broken home, a home with no love, or a home where they have no role models. How do I find the balance? What can I do?

I want to just share my story and my experience with anyone and everyone, but half the time I can’t even get two minutes with someone. I don’t want the love to end in Camden… I want it continue, but I don’t feel it at home. It’s different here. There is love here at home, but it’s not the same. Is it wrong that I want to build another Urban Promise out here to recreate that love? That isn’t the only reason why, but of course. I’ve seen the great things happening in Camden and there is just as great of a need out here in Azusa or even Los Angeles.

I’ll just stop here because I feel that I’ll just continue to paint more and more repetitive circles around myself and I don’t even know if I’m making sense.

So I just ask you to pray because at this point, that’s all I can do because I don’t have any answers… but maybe it’s better to not have any answers.

Want to help me? Listen, respond, react, and just love. Love God, Love Yourself, and Love Each Other. Help and Serve One Another. Love by lending a listening ear, don’t bottle things up inside, love with a smile, a long embrace or hug. Love my looking into one another’s eyes and try to gain an understanding how each other is feeling. Love because God showed us how to love and love just because.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Monday, July 21st.... My Last Day in Camden

Monday, July 21st, 2008


Here I go God, give me the strength to make it through today!

I got to camp and did breakfast in both rooms. First with Raf and Tony since they were going to be leaving with baseball camp and then I spent some time with Karles and Dayna.

I asked the girls if we were going to be going out for Bible Buddies and they said yes. Then Karles held onto my arm for about 5-10 minutes pleading with me to stay and I told her, “I don’t want to leave”, but that I have responsibilities and a family back home to return to. [Although Camden is one of the families I belong to and hope to forever be apart of]. At one point Dayna asked why Karles still was holding onto my arm and she said she couldn’t let go just yet. Part of me wished she wouldn’t let go and I’d have to stay- a huge part of me wished that.

We went upstairs for opening program and as ours ended we were joined by Camp Freedom. There had been some scheduling issues with the buses and so we extended our program and did more songs and another long skit- everything was so AWESOME! It was amazing to see our two camps come together- there was so much energy in that room. We then headed to the park (which I nicknamed “Glass Park” because of the glass everywhere). The camp kids played kickball, but I stuck behind on the sidelines with Cyani.

Sad Side Story:

One of the Camp Freedom boys had an ankle bracelet on because he was busted for selling drugs. This boy was basically on house arrest or city arrest for selling drugs in South Camden.

Think about that…

This child of God had no way out that he saw and he began dealing drugs. How sad is that? A mere child between the age of 10-13 years old.

This is reason alone for programs and relationships built by Urban, to capture these kids hears and fill them with God’s love and give them hope of a fighting chance to survive the “beautiful struggle” they live and are born into.

After camp I took the kids bus back to downtown Camden and walked with Karles and her little sister Asyria back to their house so they could make sure they could go and Dayna was going to meet us at their house. Their mom said yes and the girls thought it was because she didn’t want them in the house because last year she wouldn’t let them go.

We bought our train tickets (five-something for four of us), boarded the train and headed to Riverton. We got off 4 stops later and arrived at the old fashioned ice cream parlor- which was closed for another half an hour so we walked to the park and hung out. Then we walked to the parlor and the girls picked what the wanted and we ate our amazing sundaes and hung out. We then bought more tickets for the train ad headed back to Camden.

We got back and we hugged and said our goodbyes or rather the I’ll see you again one day. We parted at the “fork” in the road and I began walking toward the bus stop. About every few steps the girls would shout out “Bye Miss Jenn, we’ll miss you” and they did this about five times and I’d wave goodbye until they were out of sight (but never out of my mind). I hopped on the “405” city bus and eared up a little as I waited for my stop.

I got back to Urban at about 4pm and hung out for a bit. I was going to spend my last camp night at Eastside. I then found out that Spirit was going to the Camden Baseball game with my Camp Grace. I went up to my room to pack some more and left for the game when Sean called me to tell me we were leaving. I got on the bus with the Spirit interns and their 7th and 8th grade boys.

The stadium wasn’t even halfway full, but we had a great time just laughing and hanging out (me, Sean, and Jenny). The about halfway through the game the three of us and Krista, Steph, and Katie went and walked around the waterfront for an hour. We were basically in two’s when walking and talking and Steph and I talked about ourselves and the kids and relationships for about an hour.

We got back and as we were getting ready to leave I got to see Raf and hug him and walk with him and say goodbye. I said goodbye to Garrett and James as well.

By the time we got back it was too late to go to Friendlys and so I said some of my goodbyes. I hugged Kumarr and Mike and then we didn’t have much time to hang out before curfew so me, Me-Linh, and Sarah went into the other room, lights off, sat on the floor in a circle and held hands and prayed. It was what I needed and what I had asked for. So we held hands and I listened and then closed the prayer circle with snivels and lots of tears streaming down my face.

We all migrated to the Brick House and shortly after that they boys left- it was hard because I didn’t get to have nice individual goodbyes and lots of hugs because their ride back to their place was waiting. The girls and Gibby hung out and we had a “round-table” 20 questions game and then Me-Linh and I went back to my room across the street and talked and listened to Paul Stephen’s cd and I finished writing letters and packing.

I finally went to bed at 1am and was up at 4:30am to shower. Gibby and I left for the airport at 5am. We, of course (with Gibby driving… haha) got lost and made it to the Philly airport by 6am. It wouldn’t have been normal if we had made it straight there and not driven around the streets of downtown Philly.

I cried a few times with tiny tears in the airport and slept most of the 6 hour ride back home because sleeping made it easier to deal with leaving the place I feel most at home and feel an unconditional love…

Sunday, July 20th... Two Days Left

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Two days left… until I head back to California…

Today we woke up nice and early for choir yet again. We went to a church in Stanton Island, New York. We actually got there in less than two hours- although I had felt pretty sick the whole ride up.

As we waited to start our rehearsal Soley and I sat together and we gave each other a long hug and my eyes began to water until Soley broke the moment without realizing it and said, “I wonder what’s for lunch?” We both laughed and the moment was thankfully gone, but then we looked at each other and she realized that I had been having an emotional moment and she felt bad she broke it. But it’s okay because it was too early to begin crying or to start crying at all.

Actually the night before I had tearfully talked to God and I thanked him and praised him for bringing me back to Camden and for everything happening and moving in Camden. I cried because I was sad, but also because I was happy- yet another mix of emotions. I remembered how emotional I was for my last Sunday service last year and how I could not stop crying. So I prayed for strength to make it through my last two days- to be strong and to not be an emotional basketcase... and he pulled me through…

We practiced our songs a few times, worked through some difficulties and adapted to the on-the-spot changes. Cleve can be so funny sometimes, but after last summer and last week when you have choir with Cleve you learn to roll with the punches, especially when in the middle of practice Cleve asks Sean to play “Taste and See” on the piano on the spot. Sean went right along after a short hesitation- I was proud, haha.

Practice went really good and we learned a new song in Malawian. We finished practice about 15 minutes before the service was to start and members started filing in.

The coolest thing about the service was that it was the new location of an Urban Promise. Urban Promise Stanton Island. The service went well- several of us even put in donations for the church. I put some cash in as well as wrote a check for this new and struggling church, but I could feel God work and moving and blessing this church. They also announced that camp was now free for kids for the rest of the summer- Praise God! Choir did really well and Kareem’s Bible Rap was precious. Afterward we had pizza for lunch and headed back to Urban.

On the long ride back we had a jam secession once Sean pulled out the ipod speakers. It was fun just to find comfort in the presence of others, especially since I would be living soon.

After we got back I went to my room and listened to some worship music, cried a little, and wrote some of my intern goodbye letters. I changed quickly and looked out the window and saw that everyone was loading up in the van and so I ran down the stairs to catch the van to leave for Sunday service. We were leaving a little bit earlier that I was originally told, so thing I caught the van.

They served salad at dinner! Yay! haha. We (Eastside Interns) love us some salad, especially Sean’s yummy salad. I spent time with Erin Main while the interns broke into cell groups. We then went into service and I cried a little during the service but Me-Linh pulled me through considering how I felt. I felt like crying, but didn’t want to and God helped me hold it together. The less tears the better, but the tears really began flowing when I gave Courtney a long goodbye hug… more like three long goodbye hugs.

We got back and we hung out for a bit and because the Brick House was so hot Me-Linh stayed in my room and we stayed up talking until 1am and then we both figured it was time for bed since we had camp in the morning.