Tyler leading the kids in games!
Tyler and I were blessed with the opportunity to spend a week in Watts with an awesome group of Grove high school students as well as 3 other leaders. It was an AWESOME week...awesome is really an understatement. This was the 2nd year we were a part of this trip and both years we have walked away in awe of how present God is in the community of Watts. So many people hear "Watts" and make judgments about the people who live there. How blessed I am that for the second year in a row I had the opportunity to meet some of the people who live there and hear their stories. So powerful and life changing.
Many of us journey through our lives and do not realize how blessed we truly are. I will be the first one to admit I am guilty of this.
Just a few of my thoughts...
When was the last time we stopped and thanked God for our legs and the ability to walk? I met two men who are living on the streets in wheelchairs. One of them is missing a leg. The other man sleeps in front of the police station at night because he has been attacked by cocaine addicts during the night who have tried to steal his wheelchair for drug money. He told us he is too afraid to sleep on the ground because he doesn't want to lose his wheelchair.
When did we last thank God for our teeth? Tyler and I stopped and talked with a man in a wheelchair who had no teeth. He is living on the streets and told us he has no family. It broke our hearts when we handed him a sack lunch and he devoured the sandwich in just a couple minutes...we could tell he was starving.
This may sound odd...but when did we last thank God for the ability to use the bathroom? One of the men we met who was in a wheelchair had a bag attached to him to urinate into.
When did we last thank God for a safe home and neighborhood? Many of the adults and kids in Watts see violence on their streets regularly. One of the boys I talked with recently heard a girl being raped down the street.
When did we last talk with our neighbors and try to build a relationship with them? One of the biggest things I admire about the community of Watts is that everyone there knows their neighbors and has relationships with them. They look out for each other, they help each other out when they are in need. They don't walk past them everyday and smile...they stop, they converse, they offer a hand. Wow, think of what could happen if we all stopped and got to know our neighbors instead of closing ourselves off?
When did we last stop and thank God for the roof over our head? Although I live in a tiny 840 sq ft apartment, I have a roof over my head and so much more than a staggering percentage of the rest of the world. I don't have to sleep under a bridge at night and transport my belongings from place to place.
When did I last praise God for my pantry full of food? I never go hungry. Millions can't say the same.
When did we last stop and get to know a person living without a home and extend a helping hand? They have a story...each and every one of them. The people I met living without a home in Watts blessed my heart with their stories and perspective on life.
What if we loved with reckless abandon? What if we let our guard down, stopped judging and stereotyping and tried to build relationships with people who are "different" than us? How would our world be changed? How different our lives would look if we stopped only thinking of ourselves. I pray God will teach me to do this.
We put on a western-themes vacation bible school for the kids. Here are Allison and Hannah!
More pictures coming soon:)