Good evening from Oakland. Diving into the third week of BAyUP, I write to you enjoying the company of friends interrupted by the staccato burst of fourth-of-july fireworks. God is knitting our team closer together through prayer, sharing, and candid conversations. And though I lost my phone charger, I feel like I’ve experienced further breakthrough coming to better terms with the technology fast. I have to confess that at first my mentality was to see how far I could “push the limit” by pressing for staff to let me listen to my i-pod during the Sabbath, and sneaking out some texts to people on my phone. I began to have a change of heart on Saturday though, remembering how important it is to unplug and remain present with the community with whom He has blessed me. Due to unforeseen complications, I and the other three guys on my team have moved in with the rest of the Berkeley ladies in their apartment/duplex. We have a room to ourselves, but now face the hardship of sharing a bathroom between 11 people. Sketchy right? Haha, actually I’ve been consistently reminded the longer I’m here as to the actual extent that my life is comfortable and manageable. I continue to eat healthy, get plenty of exercise, and receive abundantly of the generosity of free food and the hospitality of churches, businesses, and friends in the city. Recently at a church’s breakfast fundraiser for a local homeless shelter, the event coordinators bequeathed the gift of over 20 boxes of ‘Wheaties’ to my team and me. David, Josef, and I proceeded to hide them all over our home’s 9 spacious rooms and derive much joy from having the rest of our housemates go on a treasure hunt to find them…daily!
Working at Street Level Health Clinic has been legit thus far, and currently my team and I are in the process of conducting extensive interviews of the staff and clinic volunteers to draft an ethnography about the history, culture, and vision behind their humble organization. We hope to draw poignant and representative stories and values from the ethnography that could provide the backbone of a great fundraising letter to potential donors. I have been able to interview volunteers and staff in Spanish, and it has been such a joy to recognize how much of my knowledge and comprehension of the language I have retained. By far the biggest obstacle our team faces at SLHP is creation of a huge mural to artistically portray its role of support in the immigrant and urban communities in the San Antonio district of Oakland. As you all probably know, art is not my forte, especially the kind that involves huge paintbrushes and attention to finely sculpted detail. PRAY FOR US!
On Wednesdays and Thursdays, my team works with Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), planning an Interfaith vigil to be held outside an immigrant detention center in Richmond. We hope to unite church communities to publicize and speak out against the profile-and-snatch tactics and lack of especially legit legal representation for illegal aliens trying to make a living in the United States to avoid abject poverty and violence in their home countries. I’m so stoked to be working with this organization, because its Christian approach and prayerful mission scope remind me that there are Christians out there in our little big world that not only passionately feel God’s heart for justice, but dedicate their lives to its pursuit.
1. Pray that I continue to steward the technology fast with grace.
2. I can engage with the demanding schedule of my sites and still have time and love to meet my neighbors and volunteer at a church “block party” next Saturday.
3. God continues to give me His heart for my team and the city, so that I understand just how much I have to learn from my team and the people of the community.
4. A hedge of protection from sunburns envelops my body.
5. I have the bandwidth to sacrifice my usual comforts to embrace a lack that brings faith to the forefront of my daily life. Man shall not live by bread and sufficient hygiene alone right? *^_^