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, September 3, 2009

A Little Video I Made... My Summer In Camden

video

A short video I made giving a glimpse of my summer in Camden. Thank you everyone for your continued love, support, and prayers. It's been a long road and journey and a great one that has taught me so much and one of which I hope to pick up and continue in the near future.

Bible Buddies

July 21st, 2009

Bible Buddies

So every week, we pick several kids to come back after camp to hang out with us and talk about the Bible… sometimes. The basic concept of this is that we begin to build mentoring relationships with the kids. We call it Bible Buddies and on most weeks we do it twice.

The first week Ricky and I decided to partner up because I wanted to do at least one of my groups with boys. He didn’t feel comfortable entirely doing it alone or didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know what to do with boys… so why not partner up.

I think it has been such a blessing to work with Ricky on this because we can split whatever money we spend on the kids and come up with ideas together. Also I would never just play tag alone or even think to play tag with the kids and Ricky does and I always join in and it is so much fun. I feel like we can pour more into the kids when we are in a group together like that, versus if I just had five kids by myself, the ones that tend to trail off or wander would get most of the attention, while the others don’t.

One of my hopes is that we will make an impact with these kids within our Bible Buddies and that we will create memories to remember for the years to come. Some of our kids have talked about other interns and how they were cool or how they would spend money on them. I hope that we leave some lasting impression upon their hearts that is more than they took me out or bought me things.

Roller skating with Camp Spirit and Camp Hope. Me and two of my girls. Ngan and Jennifer.

Hanging out with the boys... funny faces :P
I love them so much.

The made a rap about the days of creation and they got to perform it for a vacation bible school and then I took them out to breakfast for Quincy's birthday. They said it was the best day of the summer! ;)
Ricky "Bobby" and I. My Bible Buddies partner (in crime). He was like my little brother and best friend all summer!

Old Post: July 14... Basement Writings and Reflections

July 21st, 2009

So… wow!
I am in Camden right now. Sitting in my basement of my house typing this.

Sorry for the much delayed response to journaling and keeping you updates, I have been so busy and super exhausted. I have made a few journal entries that I need to post to our team blog which I will include in here as well.

Myself and Rachael are keeping the team blog more up-to-date so if you would like the check that out go to:

camdensummerlove09.blogspot.com

So much has happen and has been so crazy, wonderful, exciting, chaotic, and amazing, and stressful, and exhausting.
I am working at Camp Spirit this summer! Woot Woot. SPIRIT! I have always loved eastside and have always felt drawn and connected to this camp and the kids. Last summer I juggled between my old camp in north Camden, Camp Grace and being with Sean and Mary at Camp Spirit. This summer since my old camp kids bible buddies were now no longer at camp because they are going into high school I decided to make the switch because I still remembered and knew kids who would be at Spirit and hopefully remember.

This summer thus far has been so amazing and so so so challenging. I am living in a house with 9, yup nine, other women. Talk about craziness, that is why to much estragon and way to many girls risking the chance of being on their period at the same time, we’ve already had some cat fight statuses and craziness, but it has all been good. I love my girls and I am living with at least four people who I already knew from APU or from other experiences and memories in Camden!

The guys on our staff live across the street in the Trekker House. They are so amazing as well. Matt was here last summer and I am excited to get to hang out with him again this summer. Luke is from APU actually, although we had never met and he is so amazing and cool and just such a fun guy. Ricky is actually my friend Nick’s brother-in-law… Nick was on my APU team to Camden two summers ago. Ricky is from my hometown and we went to the same middle school at different times and rival high schools… what a small world.

Either way I am just so excited to be back here in Camden and I cannot believe that we just finished our third week of camp and almost are at our month mark, meaning I am about halfway done with my summer here. I started thinking about that yesterday, that I have been at camp for three weeks and I have about three weeks left until I leave. I’m starting to get that unsettling feeling of not wanting to leave… AGAIN!

God has been doing so much while I am here though and I am really connecting with the kids, even after three weeks. I am going to miss them so much, it is truly precious when they call you Miss Jenn or come up to your and give you a hug or grab your arm or hold your hand with their little hand in yours. Not only that but you can see innocence still in the children, where they have not yet been taken or disturbed by their society and you want so much to help them, save them, and develop them. You can already start to see within my eighth grade class that they don’t want to participate or do anything because at some point they have been told that they aren’t good at anything and no one has really poured into them or given them a reason to care and so they don’t care… about anything. So part of the mission of Urban Promise is to equip kids… and I hope I can begin to fulfill that mission and make it become a reality.

Also God has been teaching me a lot about myself and about community. Let me just say that it is really difficult living with 9 other women. That is a lot of estrogen flow and at any moment any of us could be on our period or be having a bad day. One day I asked one of the guys here (when I was having a bad day), why is it so difficult to work and live with women and he said because we are run and live off of our emotions. Wow! How very true, my emotions are like a roller coaster… I can be having a fine day and then one thing will happen and I get so frustrated or upset. I have learned to seclude myself from my housemates when that stuff happens in order to not snap at them or be rude. I am learning to lay down everything at the feet of Jesus, every frustration, thought (good and bad), and emotion before Jesus. It is quite difficult, but I am learning and working on it. I am especially learning to not vent or gossip, which is very hard when you live with that many women.

After a summer of chaos and drama and love and backscratches, we all got dressed up and went out for cheesecake.


Some chaos... rotten bananas in the fridge, not even a few days after getting them. I respect and love my mom so much more after clean up after that many girls, let alone adults.


Brick house pack. We're all in this together...

Goodbyes and Debriefing: Written Aug 25

Written: August 25

So as of Thursday I will have been back in California for two weeks and it has been two of the longest weeks because I miss Camden so much.

On August 9th, my internship and mission trip with Urban Promise ended and I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing my summer was or what a life-changing and eye-opening experience it was or even how much I miss it even more.
On our last day, it was amazingly bittersweet day. I woke at 4am with a text message from Ricky saying that he had arrived in Kansas and in five hours he would be at his “home” in Kansas. We texted for awhile before he told me to go to bed, which I agreed and I feel asleep. I awoke at 5:30am to get ready for church. This summer I joined the UP International Gospel Choir again (third times the charm!) and we travel to different churches on Sundays to sing and raise money for Urban Promise and we sell merchandise. Since this was our last Sunday, we had a few different options and most of us all agreed to go on a trip to the Brooklyn Tabernacle. I got ready and headed to Urban Promise to meet up with the other interns, it was cold and rainy. Just after 6:30am we loaded up on an Urban Promise bus and headed for New York/Brooklyn. I slept laying across the seat most of the way. We arrived and our church relations director (momma) Jeri and our driver and their significant others went to search to park our big school bus while the rest of us headed for the Tabernacle, which was less than a block away from where we were dropped off. Because Jeri is amazing, she made “reservations” (I guess you could say) and we got to sit in the balcony. Man is it beautiful. Or should I say… God it is beautiful. The service was amazing and afterwards we went to the Bell Tower (the gift shop). I think several of us bought gifts and Marlyne, myself, and Brent were about the last three. Marlyne walked over with Cleveland (our choir director) to the restaurant and Brent waited for me and we walked over. We had some of the most amazing BBQ I’ve ever had. After an amazing lunch, we headed back to Urban Promise. Going to the Brooklyn Tabernacle was the perfect way to end the summer and our summer with choir.

When I arrived back at my house, the packing began. However, by the time we got back I had less than hour before we had to leave for Sunday service. Or as I like to call the last Sunday service… let the tears and goodbyes begin. We had dinner and had our last Sunday service where Bruce gave a brief message and we all shared stories about the summer and about things we will miss. We shared with everyone and with each other one on one. I shared with Brent how I will miss one of my camp kids Craig and how he always made me laugh and smile although he was up to no good most of the time. I talked about missing Camden and everyone there and all of the memories and inside jokes. I also shared two stories in front of everyone. The first, being that I hope this summer was enough. I pray and hope that everything I poured out this summer was enough to make an impact and a lasting impression that one day my camp kids will be street leaders and team leaders and field supervisors, and maybe even eventually directors and that they would share stories of old interns and bible buddies like my director and assistant director did this summer. I also said a thank you to my director Jacob and ad Pookie (Eduardo) for always making this summer fun and making me laugh even on the hottest or most difficult days. The tears flowed that night and we all drove home after service and after the tears and hugs and commenced.

We got home and the cleaning and packing began. I was trying to get everything done in time to get some sleep before the drive to Boston.

The team and I were having our debriefing and team time in the Boston area (Hopkinton, MA). While packing and cleaning there was a hang out going downstairs with some old streetleaders and housemates and so it was quite distracting. By the time I finished packing and had showered it was 3am and I hadn’t really heard back from Jacob. So I knew I needed to get sleep because I figured I would have to drive the first part because he came in late and would be really tired. So I went to bed and woke back up to put any last minute stuff in the van, so I only had an hour and fifteen minutes of sleep but brought along my dad’s MonaVie energy drinks.

It took us almost six hours to get to Boston and I drove about 3.5 of those hours. We stopped once for a quick pee break and I bought coffee and then stopped again to go pee and to switch drivers, so Jacob could drive since he slept while I was driving and then we stopped to get gas and then made it to our destination. Our destination was amazing, did I mention that? Back in October I flew out to the East Coast and stayed at my boss’ family house for his wedding and this was the same house we were at for debriefing. I became close with his family and his niece who is my age and so I asked them back in November or January and asked if it would be okay to bring the team and they agree.

We were treated like royalty. The fed us and just let us do our thing. Our thing was just resting and relaxing. We tanned the first day and had amazing white chicken chili. The second day we slept in and I made breakfast for the ladies and then we went swimming and relaxed and then we all got showered up and dolled up to go out to dinner. In the next town we went to a place called PreZo’s Sushi Bar and Grill and had an amazing dinner. However, the day before in Milford had found e-coli and so we couldn’t have water or have certain drinks or sodas during dinner because they were tap water and syrup-based. After dinner we rented some movies via a RedBox and bought ice cream for dessert. We began watching the movies and I made some brownies for everyone and then we went to bed. The next day we hung around the house and began the huge task of packing up all of our stuff and it took most of the day. Mary (our host) made us some amazing Boston Clam Chowder and shared her life story with us and we continued to relax and hang out. I stayed up super late finishing off totaling our summer’s receipts from spending and then went to bed. We all work up and were on the road by 6:30am and just beat traffic. We dropped off Carly first because her flight was earlier and into Boston and ours was two hours later into LAX.

We sat and played games in the airport and then six hours later we were back home although we all felt like a huge piece of us was missing because for the past two months Camden had become our home. For me, Camden is my second home and will eventually be my new home.

The Team representing camp shirt for our debrief sleepover including movies and brownies and ice cream.

The backs of our shirts.

The team read and all dolled up for our night out for dinner for debriefing!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Sign

I want to like jump up and down and scream from the mountain tops that I am going to Camden, I am going to Camden! Woohoo! Did I mention I’m going to Camden…

As of last night I can officially start thinking about going to Camden, actually I can allow myself to become distracted by the idea of getting to be with four amazing girls in Camden and be reunited with some wonderful and amazing returners (interns) and kids in Camden!
I can officially start thinking about the excitement of being back in Camden because last night I finished my last grad class for the summer, I will be walking across a stage with my Master’s in Human Resource and Organization Development in December! So because I have been so focused on school (I was taking two of the hardest classes in the program), I have been trying to keep Camden on the back burner. But now I have less than two weeks of freedom until I get to leave, so I thought I’d share my God moments and story (as mentioned in my last blog) of what brought me to the decision of going away for the whole summer…

As most of you know I had already been preparing/leading a team with my university for Camden, but they would be there for the whole summer while I was planning a three-week visit/trip. But I was willing and wanting to teach them and prepare them for Camden…
Well, after much thought and some prayer I begin fostering the idea of going for the whole summer. I wasn’t having much luck in the job department and so I really began praying to God for some sort of answer/sign about what I should do… it was a win/win situation because either way I would still be going back to Camden…
Let me preface first by saying, that receiving a “sign” is a very loose term for me because I do believe that God intervenes in peoples lives, but I don’t know, its just sometimes I hard concept to grasp, but I know that God has spoken to me through signs I guess before via emotion and thoughts and ideas and more than just a coincidence and sometimes its even harder for people to understand. I’ll just call it divine appointment maybe, being at the right place at the right time… I don’t know.

Attempt #1:

Background story first: I have grown up listening to hymns in the church and one of my favorite hymns, is Come Thou Fount. I have always felt a special connection with that song because anytime I am have a tough time I always hear it and it pulls me through. So when I went to Camden the first time, it played on my last day as I was praying to God for an answer about coming back. Then it played at church right before I went to speak about Camden and about going back again… and it always plays during tough parts of my life or on rough days where I am not always as close to God because I’m dealing with something…

So I am sitting… actually laying in bed in a hotel suite in Vegas… the “City of Sin”. :-?
It’s in the afternoon and I really didn’t feel like leaving the room or anything, so after a much needed nap I turn on the tv and start channel surfing. Nothing is really on and for some odd reason I begin to settle on this Hallmark movie with Katherine Heigel and I begin watching it… it was one of those Love Comes blah blah movies. I continue channel surfing during commercials and still nothing so I continue watching it, about ¾ into the movie the lead girl goes to talk to the father of the family she cares for and he has gone out for a walk for his Sunday God time and so she follows him and sees him in the distance sitting on a bench overlooking a ravine and he is singing… nothing but… Come Thou Fount…
Is that crazy or what, I couldn’t believe it either… of all the movies and songs and times to be watching tv… I immediately was like God, no way… I just started praying about this decision a few days ago, there is no way. So I have heartedly shrug it off and pray for more clarity…


Attempt Two: about a week or so later (I actually don’t remember the time.. haha). It was late and I was reading this new book by Bruce Main. Bruce is a friend and director of Urban Promise in Camden. The book is about the “art of noticing” and about seeing God and others in the most unlikely places. So I am reading the chapter about thankfulness and I begin reading this story and as I get to the end I begin to weep and not entirely realizing what I had just read had caused me to cry, but my heart knew although my brain was not all there, I re-read it.
Basically this man had lost his job and began volunteering at Urban Promise just cleaning, painting, and simply mowing the grass. As Bruce was leaving for lunch, he chatted with this man covered in sweat and grass and asked him why he seemed/was so happy. Bruce then explains that instead of this man being stressed out or worried about finances or finding another job he was happy, no, joyful to have the free time to volunteer. He was thankful and grateful for the time that God had now given him.
This was it… that was it. It was basically me in the story that was my story. In that moment I knew I would be going to Camden for the whole summer.
Even for like two or threes to follow that God-moment and decision I was still in awe and couldn’t believe it… but now I can. And I am so amazed and happy and overwhelmed with joy. Thank you!

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Our team is about $1500 short of what we need to go, PTL! It’s not more... I am just $100 shy of my goal (donate online at www.apualumni.com/scg09 or contact me).
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We are excited and ready and willing… Camden, here we come.


Me, Rach, and Carly at one of our team meetings in the canyon.

me, with kameale and marlyne in santa barb.

me and rach at the change camden benefit concert, we raised 200+... :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Different Direction

I literally cannot believe what I am going to write for you...

These past four months have really rocked my world to a truly unbelievable point, which is where I currently am.

As most of us know, the economy has truly ben a rollar coaster that is headed and on a downturn that makes your heart jump and drop at the same time where you almost cannot catch you breath or scream and that is how I feel...

I lost my job a little over a month ago and it completely rocked my world, everything I had done and worked hard for and knew for the past three months was gone. Now three months... that seems like a small time frame, but consider that I spent forty hours there a week beginning the two days after graduation and now everything I seemed to know and had worked for was gone. Consider it a disconnect from the culture and the people as well as lack of commitment that was desired and a splash of economy and the biggest blessing I could have ever been given, not to thank them but to really thank GOD!!! [THANK YOU, GOD!!!]

I was devastated at first, part of my identity lied in working even if it was just for three months, it was everything I did and day in and day out. And now I had free time and no money lined up. It was a huge hit finanacially to lose that income and I'm still somewhat scrpaing to stay afloat and alive. But there is so much I have to tell you about the amazingness of God...

I started applying for jobs and unemployment immediately, unemployment which was later denied, oh well. I have more misses that hits with job, there just isn't anything out there. I found a job nannying through Megan that is twice a week and have had a job interview with a church in Glendale (which I had yesterday)... a great thing is that when I began working at my last job I began putting about 20% of my money away, so now I am living off of that with a few cutbacks of eating out and such and it'll last until the end of summer. The idea that I would be able to survive until the end of the summer, got me thinking about Camden more and more obviously... and about two weeks after losing my job I began praying and considering the possibility of going to Camden for the whole summer with my team. I could not believe I didn't consider it sooner...

Through prayer and lots of talks with my parents and friends and mentors and through some amazing signs through God,
I WILL BE GOING TO CAMDEN FOR THE WHOLE SUMMER!!!


If you like to hear the story of how God brought me to this decision let me know...

So now however, I must raise some more money which I think will totally happen, but I need your help through prayer and financial help...

I am so excited for this summer and for my team and am so excited for what God has in store for us and to be reunited with the kids and some of the interns and that I will be sharing this experience with so amazing girls I have selected and have begun training these past few months.


My amazing team and beautiful girls.

We will be leaving in two months and be away for two months as well and I cannot wait to share my experiences with you! :)

I am so excited to really just experience true community and love and to continue working with Urban Promise... this will really be my last opportunity to spend this much time there because I will be finishing my last five graduate classes and be done with my master's and jumping into the "real world" and finding out and figuring out what I want to do with my life...

Keep in touch and keep reading.

Have a wonderful weekend! Love you all.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And I'm Back...

It has been about four months and a lot has happen since then...

I came back from Camden and it was hard, as always. It still is hard and I miss everyone so much and think about Camden all the time. I am trying to keep up my relationship with people I've met there.

I started my last semester at APU!!! And graduated on December 13th, 2008 with my Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and a minor in Leadership Studies.




Above is a picture of me after the ceremony... so excited and happy. And then also a photo of me and Dr. Wallace (Jon), the President of my university.

I got to travel to Boston for my boss' wedding back in October. I had been helping plan the wedding for several months and so he flew me out to Boston to help with and attend the wedding. When in Rome... or Boston... or basically the East Coast... I decided to rent a car and drive to Camden the day after the wedding. How could I not when I was only six hours away?


I spent Sunday until early early Thursday morning. Molly came back for the year internship, so I stayed with her and her housemates in the brick house for those four days. I got to see my camp kids and spend time with the streetleaders and lots of time with Molly and it was just so amazing to be back and living in community again. Also I got to see how they run the year-round programming.

Guess what... I'm going back to Camden again...


I mean... really, it's no surprise. You had to see that coming. In a random circumstance of events and meetings, I am now the leader of the Camden Summer Missions Team from APU. I will be preparing them for the internship this summer and it is so exciting and a little bit scary (I am there leader...haha). I am so excited to really get to share my experience with these girls (we still need some guys on the team...) and to have them hopefully fall in love with Camden like I have.

I am working full-time now... as well. Thank you God and experiences of APU... I work for a non-profit missions company full-time. It reminds me a lot of Camden and Urban Promise. Because of my new job and other responsibilities of adulthood, I will not be returning to Camden as a summer intern, but doing just as I did this past summer and staying for a few weeks! I am excited either way however!!!

That is all for now. Please keep checking for future updates and any other exciting news Camden related!!!

Love,
j.