Monday, September 7, 2015

One Week in Hollywood

Me, Rowena and Ahreum at LAX
          It has officially been one week since I arrived in Los Angeles, California. Matthew and Marvin, our site coordinators, picked us up from the airport last Monday and immediately christened our arrival with In N Out Burger! Apparently their food makes you an official Californian no matter how long you have been here, and in our case it was only an hour.

From there we made our way back to La Casa de la Comunidad (The Community House) where we moved our stuff in and picked our rooms! Ambar and I are roommates on the green side of the house. The other side is a mirror image except painted yellow. We are known as Dwellers here, as this is also part of the DOOR program, not just YAVs.
Green side of La Casa duplex

This week has been full of cleaning, unpacking, listening to stories, getting to know housemates, and exploring the city.

Tuesday: We met Manny and KC, both board members here for DOOR and both with incredible stories involving life on the streets of Los Angeles. Manny’s main advice to us was to pay attention to the layers of the city. He said everything from the palm trees, to the movie posters, to the people sleeping on sidewalks will be fighting for our attention. It is up to us to decide what we focus on. That really resonated with me since I chose to do this YAV year to focus on who I want to be for the rest of my life.

We heard another story on Monday night from Toni, a DOOR board member who lived without a permanent home in LA for about a year. She is just now getting back on her feet after her world crashed around her in the blink of an eye. Toni helped us to see how it can happen to any of us, and that being judgmental of those we know nothing about is not helpful at all. In America we talk about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. But Toni says when you get that hungry and tired, “there is not enough energy to even reach for a bootstrap.”

Wednesday: For dinner we went to a longtime supporter’s house of the missions through First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Anna and Jack Kerr live about half a mile from our house and their family has hosted numerous missionaries throughout the years. They fed us a wonderful home cooked dinner. Our visit there meant so much to me. It was the first time I felt relaxed and at home here in LA. As we shared our chicken casserole and chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert, it was no different than being in my own warm and cozy Grandmother’s house (although your coca cola cake is still the best, Grandmother).
Jack greeted us on the porch.
Sunset from our small balcony.
Thursday: One unique part of the program in Hollywood is the sharing of testimonies. Matthew and Marvin shared their stories of how they came to this place in their lives. Later in the week and next week, each of us will share our own stories with everyone else. This process is definitely scary and creates a lot of vulnerability, but it is also necessary. We need to start off this year understanding one another and where we come from. I am looking forward to sharing my own story, as well as seeing how some of our stories may be similar,     or some very different.

Friday: Our first adventure with public transit! Rowena and I are both working at PATH, although there are two different locations in the city and we had to find two different bus routes to get there. The first place we visited was North of where we live, and we did a lot of walking to find it. The second place is South East of us and we did even more walking where we wound up seeing a large population of homeless people underneath an interstate bridge. As someone said later, God has a way of preparing you for what you need to experience. I’m sure we will meet many of these people later this year as we join the street outreach team with PATH.
Bus 4 route down Santa Monica Blvd.

The other cool thing about Friday was getting to watch a live taping of The Soup on E! Network! Joel McHale hosts this satire news show, and he and his wife are members of First Pres. Hollywood. His special guest was James Cordon from The Late Late Show and he made their skits very funny. It was neat to get to be the cheering audience and know that people all over the world were watching! He took a picture with everyone there afterwards and knew that we were the new volunteers for the year.

Matthew also took us to a place called the Farmer’s Market and a shopping area called The Grove. We got to meet his family and have a relaxing evening enjoying the warm Californian weather.

Joel McHale and the 2015/16 Dwellers.

Going through The Farmer's Market

The fountain at The Grove
Saturday and Sunday: The past two days have been very relaxing. Saturday was full of shopping and cleaning the house. Sunday morning I went to a Korean church and had a very cultural experience that I could write a whole blog about by itself! Ahreum helped Rowena and I figure out what was going on, but I had a very moving experience even without speaking the language.

God speaks Korean! Did you know that? I mean, have you really thought about that? People pray in different languages all the time, and I think it is impossible for any one human to know every language in the world; but God does! I was very moved to say the Lord’s Prayer while listening to everyone else say it in Korean around me, knowing that God understood our hearts in the same way.

Korean church hymns
Fountain action!
Paramount studios seen from our back alley

To sum up the experience from this past week, I have to say that finding the tiniest moments where God abides has brought me more peace, joy and courage than anything else. I found it around a dinner table, meeting some kids in the neighborhood, and touching the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I hope you all found some tiny moments of light this week as well. 

There is a neighborhood child in there somewhere! 
Gene Kelly's star
Banana split desserts
Santa Monica pier

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a brilliant beginning! Love, prayers, and cheers from Tennessee.