Saturday, February 6, 2016

One Day at a Time

Beauty in the world!
I have always felt as if the first few months of a new year are when time moves the fastest. This January in 2016 has been no exception! It is now the end of the first week in February and I am 23 years old. I could stop and do a lot of deep thinking about what the 22nd year of my life brought me, like an undergraduate degree, a loving boyfriend, a new life in Hollywood, etc., etc. But on this sunny Saturday, some still, small voice is whispering for me to slow down and take this one day at a time. No profound thoughts necessary.

 I will however, reminisce for just a moment on the experiences this New Year has brought so far.

On January 9th, Rowena, her friend Michelle and I all met this world traveler, set up with a little cardboard sign on Venice beach. His name was Pierre and he was from France. He sold everything he had to have enough money to travel the world, record people’s stories from the slums, and create an online story book of them. We immediately connected and talked about how we are doing something similar during this YAV year in Hollywood, except we are staying in one place and he is traveling around. The next week we met up again to have coffee and he told us much more about his project and what he hopes to accomplish. So far he has been to India, Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, South Africa, L.A., Canada, and he hopes to reach the Middle Eastern countries soon. This man has so much passion and love for his neighbors on the Earth. I have no doubt he is still doing great things! Please check out his website and support him if you so desire.

Pierre is on the left. He also gives free help with business ideas and resumes.
The following Monday, January 18th, our community day was spent watching the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade on MLK Boulevard! It was an amazing experience to see many different African, African American, Asian, and other cultures represented and striving for peace together. There was a Black Lives Matter protest making their own parade on the sidewalk behind us, but some of them seemed to have more of an aggressive take on how LAPD is treating the community. I wished that Dr. King were still here, advocating for peace. But I also realized that the remainder of the long parade was ALL about love, peace, justice, friendship, and breaking down the barriers of our communities. It was very clear that Dr. King’s message has not been forgotten, which is a beautiful thing in the City of Angels.

                          Bus like the one Rosa Parks would have used.                        Beginning of the parade.                                                                   
The view from the top of a mountain by St. Andrew's Abbey. I couldn't help but think of Jesus' 40 day stay in a similar desert.
The next Monday, January 25th, our community day was spent at St. Andrew’s Abbey. We all committed to one day of silence, from about 10 am to 6 pm. Some people may have been intimidated by this, but for an introvert such as myself, I was ecstatic to be alone with my thoughts. The Abbey is beautiful, with a small duck and coy pond, a cemetery on top of a mountain, an amphitheater, and quaint sitting areas. It is one of those thin places in the world, where stillness is easy to come by and prayer is a natural instinct (even though it’s not bowing your head and closing your eyes kind of prayer). I can’t say that God delivered any profound messages to me, and I definitely didn’t come down off the mountain with new commandments for us, but I found much needed peace of mind. I took an old journal with me that I have written in sporadically over the past 3 years. It gave me quite a reminder of all the reasons and experiences I have had that led me to seek out such a program as YAV. Since our trip to the abbey, I have been able to find much more joy in being here and finishing out my work, as it is something I started not just in August, but more than 8 years ago when I felt my life being pulled toward much bigger adventures.

This past Monday, February 1st, Rowena and I got to go to Disneyland! Paul, a fellow coworker at PATH, wanted to show us how much he appreciates our work with the outreach teams, as well as celebrate my birthday. We had quite an amazing time as you can probably tell by the pictures! My favorite part was Radiator Springs, which is an exact, life size replica of the Route 66 town in the movie Cars. We rode some beautifully designed rides, ate some delicious food, and saw a magical parade of lights at the end of the night. It was quite the escape from reality in Los Angeles, with no homeless people sitting on the sidewalks or business men with grumpy faces to pass by. It was a wonderful celebration and I am so thankful to Paul and his friend Brian for making it a day to always remember!

Radiator Springs!

And of course, yesterday was my actual birthday! I still went to work, but honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything else on my birthday than help a man find some hope for his life after living on the sidewalk for 14 years, and getting to tell another man he has a voucher for housing! Both of them gave us multiple, big hugs for helping them and the joy from that was more than enough of a celebration for me to start this new year of my life. After work my housemates and I tried out Rosalind’s Ethiopian restaurant, and it was really good! I recommend the honey wine. ;)

Ethiopian food, eaten family style and all with your hands.

February is my favorite month, so I can’t wait to see what joy there is to be had tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that! 
Beauty in the world!

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