Dream Center (Los Angeles)

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Dream Center (building use to be Queen of Angels Hospital)

Philippians 2:1-4
If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Last summer Jake volunteered at the Dream Center for a week, located in downtown Los Angeles, CA. And we was very eager for me to be able I join him this year. The Dream Center is an organization that was founded 20 years ago by pastor Matthew Barnett. His vision was to create a non-denominational church that would minister to drug addicts, unwed mothers, runaways, ethnic minorities, high school dropouts, at-risk youth and the homeless. Essentially, the “undesirable” population. He did not want another church that only wanted to witness to people about God’s love but a church and ministry that would SHOW God’s love. He wanted a church that actually CARED about people and wanted to help them create a better life, and in that way they would be able to see what Christ’s love is about.

The building itself use to be a hospital, Queen of Angels Hospital. It is located on 8.8 acres and has nearly 400,000 square feet. The building houses staff, short term mission volunteers, homeless and people going through their discipleship program. The discipleship program is a Christ-based rehabilitation program. They take people of the streets, help them get through the process of detoxing and getting off drugs. They teach them how to develop a relationship with Christ, get their GED, find a job, etc. They find any barrier that may be present and they show them how to overcome it.

Jake and I joined 12 other people from our church in Longview, WA to spend 5 days witnessing and serving at the Dream Center. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience. As a short-term volunteer we were able to help in a variety of ministries. The ministries varied from helping people move their furniture into a new apartment, bring food and supplies into peoples home who were at risk for having their children taken into Child Protective Services because they did not have the basic essentials to care for their children. Because of donations and the Dream Center the children were able to stay at home with their family and the Dream Center will continue to be involved in that families life.

One of my favorites was the Helping Hands clothing ministry. The room was set up like the Goodwill clothing section, racks and racks of clothing, shoes, belts, etc. The doors opened at 0830 but people began lining up before 0530 so they could have first pick. Women and children were allowed to pick any five pieces per person, all for free of course. Men were only allowed 3 items because there are fewer donations of men clothing. It was so humbling to be able to help with this ministry and to see the joy and smiles on the women and childrens faces when they were able to get some new (used) clothes. It definitely made me more aware of the things I take for granted.

I was able to help with the food truck ministry twice. We sorted food into smaller bags and were able to pass out essential food items to people in different neighborhoods. The lines of people would vary from 70 to 250+. We also worked with Kidz Jam; we played with the kids while their parents waited in line at the food truck. I had a lot of fun at this one, I played baseball with a little boy who was about 7. Well, I apparently played baseball with twins. I didn’t realize this until later after I had spent most of the day calling them the same name!

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Apple juice and 2 loaves of bread

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Bags of (6) tomatoes and frozen potatoes

Another ministry we worked with was “Under the Bridge.” They go out every day to provide a warm meal to the homeless population. We went to McArthur Park and another location which was close to Skid Row. The people we provided meals to were beyond greatful.

Another ministry that I really enjoyed was Adopt a Block. A new Dream Center was created in Long Beach, CA last year. The neighborhood is one of the poorest in the area and has a high population of Hispanics. It was a pretty fun day; we got play freeze tag with kids and let some feisty little girls paint our fingernails

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My rainbow nails (and they were scented too! lol)

Jake nail polish

Jake couldn’t say no to a feisty 11 year old girl

It feels like there is so much I am missing and I don’t have the words or skills to adequately describe how amazing this organization is. I have never physically worked harder as I did during those days. Each day was exciting and busy and I felt like I was truly making a difference. It will be a week that I will never forget.

DC '13

City by the Bay β™₯

A foggy summer afternoon

‘ A Foggy Summer Afternoon

I first visited San Francisco the summer of when I was 15, while on my way to Mexico on a mission trip. That visit consisted of stopping at a park and snapping pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. The following spring while on a road trip with my family we made the same stop. I had never ventured into the city and had the opportunity to really experience what the City by the Bay was all about. It gave me a longing to return and spend some time there and do all the things I wanted to do such as ride a trolley, stroll on a bicycle over the Golden Gate bridge and tour Alcatraz island. The opportunity finally came for me to do all the things I wanted to do in San Francisco, as we were going to have TWO WHOLE DAYS in the city! Did I love the city? Parts of it. Did we have fun? Absolutely. Did I accomplish on the activities on my list? Not a darn one of them.

Somehow amongst all my researching and planning I forgot to book the Alcatraz tour tickets. Dang it! Well I guess we will have to book them when we get there. Online they were sold out, but a tour company had some tickets available still for walk ups…for $125 per person. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

We checked into our “affordable” hotel, the Hotel Astoria only to learn that it wasn’t as affordable as advertised ($70/night) because we then had to spend $30 to park in their parking garage which was across the street and on the other side of the block. It took us over an hour to go the 0.2 miles to the parking garage because we drove right past it twice in the backed up/rush hour traffic. The location of the hotel however, was perfect. It was located right next to the gates of Chinatown and in the heart of the downtown.

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Chinatown, San Francisco

We managed to figure out the bus system well enough to get ourselves to Fisherman’s Wharf. We ate some delicious chowder in a sourdough bowl at Boudin Bakery and walked along the pier watching performers and admiring the sunset.

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Clam chowder in Sourdough bowls and pepperoni pizza on sourdough bread (it was amazing!)

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf

A beautiful evening at Fisherman'sWharf

A beautiful evening at Fisherman’s Wharf

View of Alcatraz from Fisherman's Wharf

View of Alcatraz from Fisherman’s Wharf (had a change in weather after dinner!)

It was getting dark so we decided to find a bus to get back to the hotel and return to the piers in the morning to explore more. An hour later we discovered that my new-found public transportation savvy-ness was a fluke as we could not find the correct bus. A $15 taxi ride later we were back in our hotel and, exhausted, we stayed in the rest of the night and watched the news. Pretty exciting, huh? πŸ™‚

As mentioned earlier, the plan was to explore the city some more the next day. We decided though that one day would not be enough to do all that we wanted to do. We enjoyed what we had seen of the city so much that we decided we will come back when we have a long weekend and we will be able to devote more time to properly exploring the city.

Our next adventure took us to the beach, the artichoke capital of the world and and the garlic capital of the world. πŸ˜‰

Until next time,

Valerie

β€œStop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” Fitzhugh Mullan

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Longview-San Francisco

Jake was eager to get on the road

Jake was eager to get on the road

What a crazy, busy last two days! We left our home in Longview, WA at 3 PM- just in time to get us stuck in the middle of rush hour traffic in Portland. 2 hours later we finally made it to the other side of Portland. Or original plan was to drive to Medford, OR (5-6 hours away) put we pushed on and arrived to Redding, CA around 1 in the morning. Our ghetto affordable hotel room was pretty hot so we didn’t fall asleep until closer to 3 AM and we were back at it bright and early.

Our hotel even had a pool! ;)

Our hotel even had a pool! πŸ˜‰

There doesn’t seem to be too much to do in Redding, CA. We did find an awesome restaurant for breakfast, Deja Vu, where I tried eggs benedict for the first time πŸ™‚ We checked out Sundial Bridge. It was a big sundial. On a bridge. It wasn’t terribly exciting but it was a nice walk.

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Sundial Bridge over the Sacramento River

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Sundial Bridge

 

Our plan at that point was to rush to San Francisco to make it in time for the Alcatraz night tour that I was suppose to have booked weeks ago. Oops. I really wanted to go to Napa, CA because of a quote I heard when I was 10 from The Parent Trap.

Hey, you're from California? 

Do you, like, live in Hollywood? Do you, like, live next door to a movie star? 

What are you two, Lucy and Ethel? 

I've never even been to Hollywood. 

I live in Napa. That's northern California. And I live next door to a vineyard. 

- A what-yard? - A vineyard. 

It's where you grow grapes to make wine. 

That's what we do. Me and my dad, we own a vineyard.
Vineyards in Napa, CA

Vineyards in Napa, CA

Hess Collection

Hess Collection

Napa was beautiful. We didn’t stop in the town but we had nice drive up Mount Veeder to visit Hess Collection winery for a tasting. Apparently on 0.4% of Napa valleys grapes for wine are grown on the mountain (really, a big hill). Because of the elevation it gets some of the cool air coming in from the bay so temperatures are cooler in the summer. In the cooler months it misses the frost as the moisture is heavy and sinks to the valley floor. Because of these factors the growing season is longer which gives the grapes more time to mature and it makes for a better wine.

Exploring the grounds at the winery

Exploring the grounds at the winery

The grounds at Hess Collection are absolutely stunning and the staff is incredibly nice. When they noticed Jake’s veteran hat they offered us both a free wine tasting which usually costs $10 a person. The wine was delicious and we left with 3 bottle in tow πŸ™‚

Barrel Room

Barrel Room

Thanks for following us!

-Valerie