A lot has happened since my last post in mid-November and I figured it was time for an update!
Thanksgiving was the best of times and the worst of times. I was pretty sick on the days leading up to Thanksgiving, taking that Tuesday and Wednesday off from work. But with enough sleep and medication, I was able to attend dinner at our friend’s house. Mary and Josh are longtime friends of DOOR and Mary was a volunteer in Hollywood one of the very first years the program existed. They graciously invited us over for a potluck dinner where they provided a great big turkey and we brought some side dishes. I made “creamed crack corn,” as my friends call it due to its addictive qualities. Rowena made some mashed potatoes and Jordan made a sweet potato casserole and pecan pie. Needless to say, we were well fed. I think my favorite part of the whole day was simply the familiar atmosphere of having football on the TV, talking in the kitchen while drinking wine, and petting the cat as it meandered through the house.
After we returned to our house, I was able to FaceTime and call the rest of my family as they celebrated with my Grandmother per our usual tradition. It was nice to “see” everyone through the screen, but it was also very difficult to not be there with them. My home sickness has doubled over the past month, and unfortunately I can now empathize with everyone who misses their loved ones over the holidays. Thankfully I will be back with the McCoy clan for Christmas, but my time at home is brief and I won’t get to see everyone that I want to.
Sticking with the holiday events, Rowena and I went with her prayer partners, Manny and Betty, to see Universal City walk a few weekends ago. It’s basically a large commercial shopping area right outside the Universal Studio Park. Santa was there!
They also took us on a late night adventure. Only slightly illegal. We had to jump a short fence. But I promise it was worth it! On Mulholland drive there is an overlook that is “closed” at night, but the view is 100 times better in the dark. It’s up on one of the mountains next to the Hollywood sign and you can see the WHOLE city, all the way from downtown to the Pacific Ocean!
Another great experience I had with Rowena and her prayer partners was the Sunday before our adventures. They took us to El Camino Metro church. It is a very large, Pentecostal, Latino church with a service all in Spanish. We went that Sunday to hear two of the miners from Chile speak who were trapped underground for 69 days back in 2010. It was cool to see them in person, however I can barely understand Mexican Spanish, so I can’t tell you anything they said in their Chilean accent. But the pastor did link some of their comments about faith keeping them alive to the verse from Luke 8:48, about the woman who believed if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ robe it would be enough to heal her. It was quite a different service from what I am used to. Rowena and I were the only white people there. In fact the first usher we met at the church nicely asked Manny why we were even there. We were not offended in the least, but it was a bit awkward to stick out so much in the congregation. Living in a mostly Latino neighborhood has taught me so much about what it feels like to be the minority. I am often the only white girl on the bus going to work, or shopping at the nearest Food 4 Less. I now realize how thankful I feel when someone makes an effort to welcome me into their circle. The church members greeted us like the rest of their family around them, and Manny and Betty and their family made sure we were well fed all afternoon. It’s hard for people here to comprehend how West Virginia is populated almost entirely with white people. I also know how hard it is for people in West Virginia to comprehend the diversity of Los Angeles. When I come back, I already know a large part of my story will be about how we subconsciously treat others who are different from us. But more on that some other time.
Other fun stuff:
The Hollywood Christmas Parade runs a block away from my house!
I went ice skating at Pershing Square in downtown LA!
I got free tickets to see Handel’s Messiah at Walt Disney Concert Hall!
Saw the Wayfarer’s glass chapel, Abalone Cove tide pools, and an ominous cave straight from Pirates of the Caribbean!
We had a Christmas store at our house yesterday! Members of First Presbyterian Church Hollywood donated a ton of toys to be sold at discounted prices to people in our community. For those who have less, it can sometimes be humiliating to receive gifts to give their children that they could not provide. We truly had a party yesterday with a jazz band, cookies, coffee and all, celebrating the joy these families bring to our community and empowering them to take pride in how they can support themselves.
Merry Christmas everyone!