Hoover Dam

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30 miles from the heart of Las Vegas lies the Hoover Dam. It is situated on Lake Mead, the largest reservoir (per volume) in the United States. When the Reservoir is full, at it’s deepest it can reach up to 1,200 feet deep which is just astonishing! I was surprised to see advertisements for scuba diving lessons on the drive to Hoover Dam but apparently it is a common activity, you can expect to spend $50-$100 for an introductory course at Lake Mead.

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The Hoover dam lies on the border of Arizona and Nevada so it was kind of interesting to see two giant clocks on either side of the dam representing the different time zones. The dam itself was so beautiful. It is incredible to think about how man was able to build something so big and so strong (even in the crazy heat! It was at least 105F when we visited!).

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Lake Mead

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726 feet up!!

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The Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (AKA the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge)

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This was before we were dripping in sweat. (TMI? It was July. In the desert.)

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Love this monument! There was a big beautiful American flag at the top

We decided to do the Power Plant Tour which was $11 per person. It is not recommended for people which claustrophobia, which I never thought I had…until I took a 70 second elevator ride 530 feet into a big dam. I (being the doom and gloom person my husband knows I can be) thought of all the worst scenarios that could happen. I was waiting for someones pacemaker to stop working (not recommended for the tour), an earthquake to happen or the electricity to suddenly stop (are there even stairs?!). I became really anxious about half way through the tour and was pretty excited when it was over. All in all, it was a nice reprieve from the heat inside the air conditioned building (except deep down where it was fairly warm) and it was interesting to learn the history of the Hoover Dam. It is definitely a must visit if you are in the area.

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Not what I expected the inside of the dam to look like!

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My Advice:

1. Try to get there early, especially in summer. It is SO HOT!

2. Park on the side with the visitors center. It is a long walk across the dam, especially when done in the middle of the day. Our one water bottle was hot water by the time we got to the other side.

3. You can’t get to Arizona from the Arizona side of the bridge. If there are no parking spots by the visitor center you have to drive across the dam to the Arizona side but to leave you must go back and drive over the Bypass bridge. Learned that the hard way!

4. Bring enough water. 1 is not enough for 2 people. We ended up splurging on $2 12oz water bottles in the store because we did not plan very well.

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)

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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