My First Mission

Los Angeles Dream Center

Spring Break of 2014, was not a vacation, but a mission trip. Barely a year after deciding to follow Jesus, but committed and eager to learn and grow more, I ventured to Los Angeles with a group of 40 people. LA with it’s glamorous people and shopping and beautiful beaches does not sound like a place for a mission trip. However, to our surprise, the city needed us as much as we needed the city. The trip changed my life.

In Los Angeles, the interns partnered with The Dream Center. The Dream Center is a non-profit, Christian based organization that helps feed the homeless and others in need, serves as a halfway house for those released from prison, helps with drugs rehabilitation, helps AIDs victims, and unwed mothers, trains young people to be godly, and many more things to serve the community, both practically and spiritually.

We served in various ways during our short term mission; everything from picking up trash, to feeding the homeless, to helping build a house for families in need of temporary housing.

The first task was painting over gang related graffiti. It sounds pointless because the gangs consistently vandalize the walls surrounding the Dream Center. In a way, we were showing people in the community what grace is. That through our mess and destruction, God consistently covers us with grace.

Painting over graffiti in LA
(from the left: Jessi, Val, Ife, Nikki and Alison) Painting over graffiti in LA

The “Adopt-a-block’s,” are a favorite at the Dream Center. Groups go out to different neighborhoods to pick up trash. You get to see parts of LA that you wouldn’t see on television and you get to bond with your team and crew member from the Dream Center.

Team doing Adopt a Block
Team doing Adopt a Block

Food trucks are also a lot of fun and rewarding. It is not the food trucks you are probably thinking of, but a truck filled with any grocery supplies that were donated to the Dream Center, in which teams bag together and hand out to the homeless or those in need.

Ryan and his helper on the food truck
Ryan and his helpers, who were from the neighborhood, on the food truck

Food Truck in LA

Passing out food in Compton
Pallets of bags from the food truck in Compton
Ife, playing with a girl at LA food truck
Ife, playing with a girl at LA food truck

We even went to Venice Beach to pass out food.

Venice Beach Food Truck
(from the left: Spencer, Levi, Chris, and Alex) Venice Beach Food Truck

The amazing thing about serving with the food truck, is that after giving bags of food, there is an opportunity to talk to people about their life and offer them prayer.

Cameron praying for a man in LA
Cameron praying for a man in LA
Team praying for healing in Venice Beach
Team praying for healing in Venice Beach

Evangelism on Skid Row was the most moving ministry on the trip (in my opinion). You will see things that you probably are not used to seeing- people shooting heroine in their arms in front of you, naked women walking the streets, selling their bodies for money, barefoot children walking on human waste and covered in dirt because their parents do not have the money for shoes or the means for a shower. As hard as it was to see those things is became apparent how BIG God is and  spoke to me that night, about how much bigger He is than those situations and how we can only go so far without His help.

It continues to remind me of the scripture in Matthew 20:16- “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” That God has not forgotten anyone- He loves those people more than we ever could.

There is nothing more fulfilling than playing with kids. The last day of ministry we did this.

Hannah and the kids on the bouncy house
Hannah and the kids on the bouncy house
Levi playing with one of the kids
Levi playing with one of the kids
Me in LA playing with kids
Me in LA playing with kids

The long week of serving and praying, ended on a happy note- going to the beach…

The beach!

The beach part two

And then to Disneyland!

Disneyland
The streets of Disneyland for our free day
In front of the castle
Having fun in front of the castle

For more information about the Los Angeles Dream Center, their mission, volunteers, rehabilitation program or more go to:

http://www.dreamcenter.org

For more information about the Mvmnt Internship, go to:

http://www.theharvestnow.com/#/growth/mvmnt-internship

By: Valerie Garza

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