Monday, December 15, 2008

fellotionary

Tonight we had a meal with one of our fellow villagers of barberry town! Amanda and her daughter, destiny and one of Amanda's friends came over to our apartment and a potluck meal with me, david, josh, my girlfriend alison, david's fiance elaina, and elaina's cousins! it was a great time! We had awesome conversations over a great meal, of Spanish rice, made be amanda and her friend, and left overs from the meal yesterday, as well as a few staples that we here in the ACI live off of: water and canned chili (or baked beans? I don't remember which they were)

After dinner, we broke into teams and locked in epic battle of pictionary! God was most definitely glorified as alison and I took first place, followed by david and elaina, we never determined the preceding placings.

Its this opening up of our home and getting to know our neighbors more as friends that I love! this ministry in the flesh, in relationship, in love, with pictionary, this is the way Jesus himself did it right?

p.s. fellowship + pictionary = fellotionary

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snowy Sunday

The crowd was thin on this cold Sunday evening but we still had a great time at the meal hosted by another great growth group from Good Shepherd!...and it was Destiny's first snow!















What a cutie!

I wanted to let everyone know we will have one more community meal in December. Next Saturday (20th!) at 5:30 pm. Before January we will have a calendar up of our (exciting new!) community events in January.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Fun Begins

Sunday the 7th marked the beginning of Christmas festivities for Barberry! It was an amazing time of crafts and fellowship with the kids and even the parents. We made magnetic snowflakes, greeting cards, picture frames, and much more. Not only was it a fun time for the kids, but adults also have revealed creative energies! Talking with several of the women, we are discussing the possibility of starting a women's scrapbooking group! Overall a fabulous time..

So I wanted to give a big thanks to my amazing friends for taking the time to come and share your talents and love with the kids. Also, enormous thanks to the Thurman home group for putting on the most festive meal yet! It was definitely a time to remember :)

Here are some pictures:








I am excited to see what the rest of the month holds, as there are many activities planned!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Psalm 33

Tyrone and I attended the monthly Portland Christian Community Development Association meeting this afternoon. It was a great time of inspiration and encouragement. The meeting facilitator read Psalm 33 which I found to be a wonderful cool spring of refreshment for my soul. With all the chaos in the world and the disruption of the economy taking place these words are ever relevant.

Psalm 33

7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars [a] ;
he puts the deep into storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.

13 From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;

14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth-

15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.

18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.

22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Advent Community Meals

We are going to be more intentional in our community meals through December to communicate what motivates us. The idea is to facilitate (simple)workshops during/after the meal to discover a deeper understanding of Christmas. Thus far we have meals scheduled at 5:30 on Nov 30, Dec 7, and Dec 14.

One of the growth groups from Good Shepherd that has been supporting us in ministry put together a flier that we can hand out to those who attend. The text is as follows:

Discovering the Christmas Story
During the Christmas season, it can be hard to discovery what the holiday is all about. There is a combination of messages. On the one hand we have a celebration of full shopping malls and bright decorations. On the other hand we have a celebration of the birth of Jesus, which took place 2,000 years ago. How do these stories go together? Do they go together at all?
Even though Christmas sometimes seems to be about presents, trees, and eggnog, it is originally the story of God coming into the word to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Jesus came to be God-with-us (Matthew 1:23). The New Testament says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” This is the true Christmas story. It is about God leaving behind comfort and riches, in order to sacrifice Himself for needy people.

Reflecting the Christmas Story
Every Christmas can be an opportunity to choose which Christmas story we will celebrate. While there is nothing bad about presents, trees, and lights, these things are not important for the real Christmas story. Instead of focusing on these, we can ask ourselves how we can reflect the true Christmas story by seeking to give ourselves away so that others might benefit.
First of all, God invites all people everywhere to come to Him and to experience forgiveness for sins and peace with Him through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Christmas can be a time of celebration in worshiping God and thanking Him for all His goodness and grace.
Secondly, Christmas can be a time of not simply giving gifts to our loved ones, but also in following Jesus’ example by giving away our time and energy and attention. Instead of simply giving gifts to one another, we can spend time together, whether that means making cookies or taking a trip to Pioneer Square to eat a sack lunch.
Thirdly, Christmas can be a time to follow Jesus’ example by showing kindness to those who are in need. This may mean anything from providing a meal for someone who could benefit from it, to spending less on presents and giving some money to a charity.

Entering the Christmas Story at Barberry Village
The story about Jesus giving Himself away in order to benefit others is the story that is behind the weekly meals that have taken place at Barberry Village. The purpose is not only to provide a free meal for anyone who would benefit from this, but also to give an opportunity for people in the apartment complex to get to know one another and to experience community, just as Jesus Christ left behind the comforts of heaven in order to be with people who He deeply loved.
The story of Christmas, however, is not just a story for the month of December, but for the entire year. Please join us for these community meals, as they will continue after Christmas. And may God richly bless you during this Christmas season.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blessings from Trader Joe's!

We loaded a moutain of free fresh fruits and vegetables into Elena's car tonight! Their official sell by date was today and all had to go! Their other charity connections were not avaliable for a pick up; we gladly stepped up to the challenge. We are planning on unloading it all tomorrow at the apartments, inviting everyone we can, and handing out invitations to community meals that we have planned for the next three Sundays.
Praise God!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Season of Change

As we are getting into the hang of things, developing relationships and building strong connections, a tough reality slapped me across the face not too long ago. We found out that one of the families we have grown close to will be moving within a matter of a month. They will still be in the city, but they will no longer be at the apartments. This forces the question -- to what extent are we building these relationships? Will they be constricted to the residents of Barberry, or are we going to love, care, and be there for those beyond the gates? It is definitely a difficult thing to grasp and fully process. I cannot imagine these people vanishing from my life so soon, just as the relationship is just developing, but I know it will take extra intentional effort to continue that relationship. Hopefully we will be able to bond with the new residents, but that doesn't mean we will forget the previous ones. It seems like this may become the trend. Wow. This takes intentional living to a new level. Hard questions, hard ponderings, but important.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Rabbi's Wisdom

I recently wrote an email to my mentor, who I call my Rabbi. I was seeking advice on what to do about the seemingly crisis of not having enough church's lined up to do meals every sunday of this month. His advice has really encouraged me and David asked me to share it on the blog, so I cut an excert from his email responce that you may be likewise encouraged.

"If you need to do the meals bimonthly for now or once a month right now,
don't feel like that's a failure. In fact it would make the people
appreciate it more. When it becomes consistant people start to think that
it's easy and when it's easy they don't appreciate the sacrifice that goes
into it. Let them see that it's a sacrifice, the vulnerability will help
them appreciate you right now.
Remember that you are an incarnational community, not a program, but
people. THE danger of doing something consistantly is that you guys will
become the reinforcement of a program instead of the program reinforcing
your presence. When you feel that you NEED local churches to reinforce the
program, you nibble the bait that could drag you into being mere
programmers or vendors of religious goods and services. Above all, the
answer isn't food or even local churches, the answer is YOU and the other
is helpful in showcasing your love for them.
I would encourage you to pour your energy into something different because
this is a definitive time for your community. What is the number one thing
that you're offering them? Yourselves. So this isn't a setback in the
least. All you can do is give them what you've got and that is no small
thing old friend. Your PRESENCE, your COMPASSION and your HOPE shouldn't be
marginalized by missing a meal"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A change in seasons!

As the days grow darker and the nights colder and longer a new challenge and opportunity poses itself for the guys at Barberry. Last Sunday an incredible group from Clear Creek Community Church came and blessed the neighbors at Barberry Village Apartments. This was a new experience once again as the changes in time caused dark to enclose the Village at a very early time. With darkness in full swing we where unable to be outside for any portion of time really, which unfortunately meant very few kiddo's were able to come. :( I can not express how strange it was with out 20+ kids running around. The bright side of the early darkness is, more chance to converse with the adults that came to the meal. Honestly, it seemed that there where as many adults at this meal as we have seen in the past. Praise God for that! It was real neat to see people all over the room in deep conversation really trying to get to no each other in a Christ caring way. i had the chance to talk to a group of boys that did come, and it was neat to listen and watch as they loosened up and began to open and talk. They are a tough looking group to an extent. There is one guy who is the team leader it would appear and he kinda directs the mood of the rest of the boys. I am praying that God will continue to allow us to reach out to these boys and see them come into a relationship with the King of kings! Please be praying as we seek new ways to draw people together for meals and love!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Barberrian Halloween

We had an interesting start to the day. A serious of events led Josh, Sean, and I to the MAX stop in front of our apartments just after midnight the morning of Halloween. An ordeal occurred among a group of individuals that led to a woman being hit by the MAX train. The three of us instinctively split up roles. I was by the woman calling 911 while Sean and Josh kept the rest of the parties present on the scene. As far as we know the woman was in stable condition and will recover from the incident.

Josh and I woke up a few hours later to do shopping for a Halloween event the management had given us some cash to put on for all the kids at the apartment complex. Then Elena and a couple guys from Clear Creek Community Church dropped in to help run the party. Just another opportunity to build relationships and community!

We tried to make it as educational (crafts: skeleton cut outs), interactive (games: ring toss and constructing a dirt cake.), and meaningful (not just loading the kids up with a bunch of candy) as possible. The 30+ kids that stopped by didn't even miss the candy (though there was the obligatory small bag of candy...with fruit and nuts!). Plus each one went home with 10+ cans of food for their family. All the kids had a blast. A group of the older boys stuck around afterwards and helped us clean everything up.

We are all greatly anticipating our next community meal coming up on the 9th! The last one put on by a growth group from Good Shepherd was awesome! The feedback from the residents just keeps getting better and better.

In the pictures below you will see Josh being a stud and running the ring toss (this is how they won the $100 worth of canned food), crafts, a couple guys from Clear Creek Community Church who stopped in to help (couldn't have done it without them!!!), plenty of smiles, one of the boys unintentionally getting into character and looking like a zombie, and a brain we had on display (a hit with everyone!):

Thursday, October 30, 2008

More pics and a little story






Hey guys!
Just wanted to put up a few pics from the last bbq on sunday. It was a ton of fun having Franklin's growth group out serving. They were a great group to work with!

On Monday Tyrone and I where on the deck working on a cabinet and one of the kiddo's from the apartments came and starting talking to us. This kiddo(David) is a good friend of ours now. He became known the day before as "Iron man", thanks to Tyrone and his creative ideas and love for kids. So, we got to talk for awhile then Tyrone and I went inside for some lunch and a few minutes later....knock knock knock......knock.....knock....knock. I'm sure you can guess who was at our door. That's right, david and two of his amigos. We had to stop them from running into the apartment. They were like scouts who had found the gold. We gave them cookies and pastries and sent them on their way. We hope this won't be the last chance to connect outside of the bbq's but if so it will leave a smile on my face every time I remember it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Better than a magic carpet ride!

Okay, maybe I shouldn't admit this but I love the scene in Aladdin about a magic carpet ride. Just the magic and beauty of the moments riding a carpet and seeing the world from a new perspective.
It's a poor comparison, but maybe you'll get the picture of what I've seen God doing here in Rockwood. For me it has been a new world full of unbelievable things. When God wants to do something great watch out! God has continued to open so many doors for me and for the team. I was at Starbucks and met a gal from the Salvation Army in Rockwood . She had heard me mention that I had just moved to Rockwood to minster and we started talking and it was clear God had set that time for both of us to be there. In searching for a job, God has opened doors that don't make sense except for it being by His power. I can truely tell people that this is the best time of my life. And things have only just begun. I'm also reminded that now more than ever is the time to put on he full armor of God, so that we can stand firm. I ask that you will be praying for strength as we battle the spiritual holds of the enemy and seek to bring the light of Christ to Rockwood and Barberry Village.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

True Fasting

As you might have deduced from a few of the pictures in the Serving Jesus, Rockwood Style post, we are working hard to make Barberry Apartments a launching pad for serving the larger community of Rockwood. There is 7-Eleven on the corner that could use some loving just about weekly, as well as a few other sourrouding buisnesses that we can be a blessing to. If you are at all curious about the deeper impact that simple garbage pick can have, check out the wikipedia entry on "Fixing Broken Windows". Essentially:
"Consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."
There is also a bi-weekly mini Nightstrike-esque site that sets up on Saturday nights on the corner of 188th and Burnside which we are hoping to be a support to. More to come on this.

On another note, Elena reminded me of a portion of Scripture that has really shaped me over the last 9 months. It seems very appropriate to share it here. Isaiah outlines what "authentic Christian living" looks like. It also consequently has some of the most beautiful imagery on the relationship God yearns to have with each of us.

Isaiah 58

1 "Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Characters

It’s been two weeks since I moved into this new stage of my life. This is a stage without T.V, a stage with purposeful relationships, a stage of willful submission to the more capable, more deserving, more knowledgeable, more worthy I AM. On this new stage there are new characters, and old ones. The new include my new roommates. Indeed, I hadn’t known any of them except David before moving in here.

There’s Josh, who I met once at an event called Nightstrike, which is a starting point of what we hope to do here. Josh is older than me by a few years and has been raised in the church. Like most people raised in “the church” he has felt an ever growing desire to actually be the Church, rather than make it a once, maybe twice weekly event. Josh is ever quick to pray, an attribute I hope to glean from him, and always a source of wisdom when approached with questions. Luckily for me, he has an excellent sense of humor. (I fear living with someone who doesn’t) He is always looking for ways to further his knowledge of different things, and I’m convinced it is solely for the purpose of furthering God’s kingdom and His glory in him. Josh walks with the gait of an epic baseball player. He told me he used to play catcher. I don’t doubt it. If I was at third and contemplating stealing home, I would think twice seeing him in armor behind the plate. Although he has an intimidating stature and a strong jaw, he is ever the servant and volunteers himself frequently to do something to better our living situation.

Sean. Sean is a person I can easily admire. At this point I’m sure what kind of past he comes from, but I know that it was rougher than my own. Yet, he has emerged from it with firm beliefs and strong determination that drives him to live a life in humble submission to God. His demeanor, at times, reminds me of what Jacob must have been like after wrestling with God, a knowledge of contending with the Lord of creation, and although loosing, in the end getting what he wanted. He has as much hair on his face as he does on his head, perhaps more, and seems like he should be wearing ox-hide leather rather than cotton and denim. His six-year old son, Riley is just as ferocious as his father looks. With his red hair flashing Riley frequently head-butts me in the stomach. I don’t even think the child knows my name yet. Like most children he doesn’t have social boundaries, this is something that I know I can learn from. To be less afraid of doing something unheard of and more concerned with doing what God has made me to do, to bring Him glory and work out His will rather than my own. I think much can be learned about the father through his son. (Jesus and God are good examples of this). Although Riley is much like Mogli from the Jungle Book, he is ever submissive to his father. In these two weeks here I haven’t heard Sean raise his voice at Riley, or even need to ask him something more than twice. There is a condition for a man to be a deacon in a church that I’ve always found interesting, and that is that the man must have well behaved children. Sean is always understanding to Riley and quick to love him, a trait I hope to glean from him.

David. David used to run cross-country in high school, and he liked it! I have to respect anyone who runs cross-country and likes it, because it means that they know perseverance, struggle and over coming their own bodies, their own desire to give up. David embodies this easily. He has a driving personality that constantly pushes him to continue when others are too weary or unwilling. David has demonstrated this attribute in all areas of his life, in school: where he is always studying and doing homework (something I personally despise, but I wish I did) in Church: where is always scheming something that can bring more people to God, in his relationship with God: where is always reading about and coming up with new revelations about our Father, and with his ministry: where is ever vigilant to communicate and organize and direct people to be most effective in this world. It seems he has the best of two worlds, where he finds study and theorizing enjoyable and he revels in sport and is good at athletic events. From the first time he and I talked, I took an instant liking to him. He’s a person of action, who gets things done, although at times skipping details. I’ve heard it said that busy people are the people that get things done, I think this saying was made because of David. Even with all that is going on his life and the things that he takes upon himself, he always has time to stop and talk. Relationships are important to him, and most important is the relationship that other people have or must have with our creator. If I can capture some of his drive to help others and apply it to my own life, I would be much better for it.
More characters to come.

Serving Jesus, Rockwood style

A few more pictures from the first bbq, led by Champion Church. It was a time of humble service and great fun, especially with the "jumper"! Thanks Champion Church!

Week 2





God is Faithful!
This weekend was another time of seeing God do great things here at the apartments. The college group from Good Shepherd came and helped us serve. We made spaghetti right in our kitchen and fed more this week then last. It started off slow, in fact I thought no one besides the kids would come out this time. Was I ever wrong. Over the course of a couple of hours, individuals trickled in. We were able to give away bags of food to some people and have great convos with others. It seems God is continuing to open the doors at Barberry Village. Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fertile Soil

Coming to Rockwood, I keep being amazed at the openness of the people. It seems as if the Lord has already prepared the ground here, and many are gasping for the fresh air the gospel brings. Initially, I was thinking this was going to be primarily a community building time, where there would be a lot of connecting to resources and meeting basic physical needs, but it is very clear that this place is in need for spiritual restoration, and many are ready for it. Case in point, at the first bbq, there were at least 2 women who said they've been wanting to go to church for a while, but have been either afraid or unsure where to go. There are also many who identify with the faith and were very open to discuss their affliation. I believe these next months will not only be great times of creating community, but also a time of meeting the greatest need of all, which is restoring faith. God was definitely preparing this place, tilling the ground, and He will continue to, we are simply part of who God will use to make the flowers grow. I have faith that God has amazing plans for this place and I am thankful for the clear signs He is giving. My prayer is that all of us serving in Rockwood will continue walking in humility and guidance of the spirit. I cannot help being excited to see where God is going to take this!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

photos ala bbq

These are mostly pictures of the pinata that we did in celebration for Rileys birthday. it went over really well with the kids and parents, and was great entertainment for all of us. it forced the adults to stand back and watch and talk.




BBQ Introduction

As Josh, Tyrone, and I were headed out to go shopping for furniture we heard a friendly man shout with a Spanish accent from across the parking lot "How'd the BBQ go!?". None of us remember seeing him there yesterday afternoon, but he recognized us, and he felt comfortable enough to ask us how it went. Our top priority for the first 3-6 months of making ourselves known - even vulnerable - and listening to the voices/stories of the community is off to a wonderful start.

And listen I did. Stories of "failed" efforts to help the community, paradoxical medical situations, tough relational and financial circumstances, and spiritual journey's burst forth from our neighbors. I remember more faces then I do names. Beautiful faces, with eager smiles appear when you lend an ear and your time.

We'll post pictures soon.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

what a weekend

A moment in life when you feel like you really can make a difference is something that is rare. Yet this weekend I experienced one of those times. Going out and inviting our neighbors turned into quite an exciting day! We decided to make some cookies to take to our closest neighbors, and as we began to bake them we realized our top burner was inop. You know how hard it is to bake eight dozen cookies with only a bottom element.! Well, we got them made and headed out. Immediately we were met by Josh a gentlemen who was moving out the same day. He decided he would introduce us to some of his friends and began running us door to door passing out the cookies we had made. we met a number of people because of his generosity. It's too bad he is gone already.
Through out the complex we received a variety of responses. Some couldn't believe we were having a BBQ others were surprised we actually lived in the apartments with them, and others were skeptical of what we where doing and whether it would make a difference. Overall, it was a great day and a great response! Thank you Jesus for opening doors!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

a calling.

Barberry village, a diverse and economically clinging to life community, nestled comfortably beside the booming metropolis of Portland, much like a starved mouse lying beside a strong and healthy, although a bit strange and sometimes hippie-ish, dog. The village consists of four wings of two-story buildings that have a light brownish hue reminding one of both dry, cracked sand and moist, freshly shaped clay. There is an office situated in the center of town complete with a community center and pool area, altogether forming the nucleus of the village. Three laundry stations are strategically located so the town’s tenants can easily reach one, and they are somewhat hidden half way under ground, giving those buildings a two and a half story illusion. There are shrubs and bushes of the sorts that grow easily in the northwest and boulders and strong standing trees wherever they can grow or sit without looking too crowded or too alone. The trees and stones speak of the area in which the village dwells, an area called Rockwood.

Rockwood has a reputation to many people, for being a dangerously poor neighborhood that is filled with violence, theft, and a culture as diverse as the fans at a Nickleback concert. Rockwood’s original residents were middle class Caucasian Americans who would commute to work in Portland. Over the last decade and more these “average” Americans moved further from Portland in hopes to escape the grime of the urban jungle. The area further east from Portland, Gresham was home to many Asian families who, after being bought out by the middle class Caucasians moved closer to Portland. With the large city of Portland growing larger, the African American culture living just on the rim of the east side of Portland were forced to migrate further east, landing them in Rockwood around the same time as the Asian culture. Within the same scope of time a large exodus of Hispanics seeking an area to call home took up many of the houses and apartments that the middle class Caucasians left behind. Various other cultures shifted in to the now low-income area while some of the more traditional Caucasians chose to bunker up in their homes. The result is a model of what America is, a melting pot of nearly every culture on earth.

It was because of this reputation that I now found myself taking residence in the village of Barberry. It all started when I decided to ask God what I should do. After a week of praying and fasting (sucked, but worth it) I felt God calling me to Portland. Once there I spent a year of trying to push my agenda on God, and in the last few months decided to let Him have His way. My friend David and I one day decided to dream over pizza and coffee about a priesthood of people, who would answer the question that the people of earth have been asking since Jesus left us, “God, where are you?” With all the poverty and sickness and hate that is now, just another part of life, swirling around our everyday habitat, how can there be a God who is, by His own definition, against those things? The answer is, us. God’s people. Christians are sanctioned by Jesus as His “holy priesthood” and as such we are now God’s hand in this world. Once I understood that, life becomes an answer. The way I live, the goals I strive for, the people that I saw as annoyances or some kind of new reality show become people worth sacrificing my entire world for. So over pizza and coffee David offered a proposal of something I knew needed to happen. We talked about a new way of living and going to church. A fusing of life at home and life in the brick building we attend every Sunday.

I just finished moving the last of my things into the 117th apartment of the village. I see people who are, not depressed, but not living joyfully either. People who carry burdens that they know and I know, they can’t possible carry alone. What are those burdens? I can’t begin to understand them. For now I must be content listening to them speak. Guarded words at first, but maybe later, when they can know that I’m not here to hurt them, maybe then they can allow me to try to show them God’s love, God’s desire to save them. Save them not from hell, although I don’t believe God would want anyone in that accursed pit, but to save them from the daily hell that everyone, who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit to shoulder they’re pain for them, trudges through. We planned our first lunch to get know the people of the village. Using priests from Champion, a local Rockwood church for running and supplying the luncheon. It goes down tomorrow. I plan to ask my Lord to ready the hearts of all of us.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rockwood/188th MAX Stop Reflections

I was standing at the Rockwood/188th MAX stop right in front of my apartment. I missed my train and had some time to spend in thought. I found myself caught in a daze at the whirl of cars driving down Burnside on either side of me when everything stopped. I looked down the row of cars stopped at the light, briefly making eye contact with few while others looked firmly at the bumper in front of them.

Then the reality of my position came tumbling over me.

I'm standing on the Rockwood MAX stop.

How many times had I driven by that stop with fear rising up, blame being served, pity forming, judgement heaped, racism boiling. Now I stand as part of the community. I stand, waiting for the train, as an individual recieving the scorn I had so often hurled.

But I stand not out of guilt for my past actions. This is worth taking the time to define. Guilt shirvels under pressure, retreats to safety when confronted. To live by guilt is to live today in submission to the sins of the past that first placed you in bondage.

I stand on the foundation of God's grace. Liberating me from a life of bondage to my self. Redeeming my brokeness. God's love that touched my soul and gave me life is why I stand on the Rockwood MAX stop.

Yet another confirmation of why, as my dear friend Elena puts it, "serving Rockwood the Rockwood way is the right way."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Transition

Alright this is my first time blogging! I am looking forward to communicating what is going on in my life through this.
This is my first experience in a lot of things, first time living with room mates, first time living in a city, first time being in a place were you have to worry about doors being locked and cars being safe. And let me tell you I am excited to see God stretch me and change me in however he can!
I challenge anyone who reads this to try something out of the norm, and ask God to stretch you. It may be awkward but it will be a great experience in the end.

Dying to self,
josh