#body {margin-top:10px;}
Sunday, July 12, 2009

Come Monday

I've only been in California for a little over 24 hours, but it already feels like days---in a good way, though. Our flight arrived ahead of schedule on Saturday evening, and we were starving. Pastor Ron, the leader of Set Free Skid Row Church, met us at the airport with a 12 person van on loan for the week. One of our trip leaders, Kim, knows the area well, and took us to dinner at a Mexican joint (and a joint it was), called El Tarasco, at Manhattan Beach. So, within two hours of arriving, I got to see beach, the Pacific Ocean, mountains, and a gorgeous California sunset. Oh, and some delicious Mexican food.

We arrived at our hotel around 10:30 that evening, and were, unsurprisingly, exhausted. Check-in didn't go smoothly, as the hotel booked our reservations, but didn't actually block off any rooms in the system. So for an hour and a half, we didn't think we were actually going to have a place to sleep that night. I was a zombie by this point. After shifting some things around, I finally laid my head on my pillow at 12:15 a.m.---that'd be 2:15 a.m. Nashville time.

Five a.m. came a little too soon. We traveled to downtown Los Angeles this morning to participate in Sunday morning worship at Set Free. The church is basically a big room with stained and bent chairs, a stage, keyboard and a make-shift sound-system. I had some time to mingle with the regulars and the guests before the service. Donald, a gentleman who is struggling with addiction, sang me a song before the service. I asked him, "did you write that?" He said, "no girl, that's Flo Rida." Right.

The service began with a solo from Pastor Ron, but it wasn't really a solo, as the congregants were singing the song loudly too. After a couple more songs, the Set Free choir, led us in worship. I have never heard a more painfully tonedeaf version of "Shout to the Lord," but all I could think about was how beautiful it was, and how it must sound like sweet, sweet music to my Lord.

The offering was taken up next, and I watched as homeless men and women pulled cash out of their pockets to place inside the plate. I know, right? It was incredibly humbling to watch. And humorous too. I watched two men make change in the offering plate, and the "deacon" hold the plate like it wasn't a big deal.

Pastor Ron gave his personal testimony this morning, and talked about how he struggled to release himself from his own snare of sin addiction, but that the Lord never gave up on Him. While his message translates well to his homeless attenders, it also struck a chord with me. We are all so different on the outside, but we all still need Jesus and his saving grace. After the benediction and prayer time, we mingled a bit more and then left to come back to the hotel.

Our only day of "free time" was today, and our leaders had a surprise for us. They took us to the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach. We ate lunch at a little beachside pub and then walked down to Venice Beach to see the muscle men, then onto the Pier. I was shocked and amazed to see how many people were crammed on the beach and in the water. It was a sharp contrast to Gulf Beaches, even on a crowded day.

A local anti-war organization set-up an exhibit of crosses to signify the number of casualties, both American and Middle-Eastern, of our current "war." It was disturbing, yet oddly a beautiful exhibit.

I walked through the throngs of people down to the beach to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean. I can now mark that one off my list. It was ice cold, but clean.

I'm sunburned, and tired, and headed to bed. We have to leave the hotel at 6:10 tomorrow morning to make "Proverbs" at Set Free. More about that soon. Goodnight!


Blogger emmysue said...

So glad to hear from you. I prayed for you this morning. Love you!

8:53 AM

Blogger Courtney Baker said...

So glad you are doing well. We miss you around here.

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the Santa Monica Pier. It reminded me of 1992 and Bay Watch. It's like going back in time!

8:34 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]