Since early November 2013 we now live in a city called Alhambra. Named after the spectacular 9th century Spanish palace compound in Granada. Our city is mainly a Chinese, Japanese & Korean community. At Christmas Linsey’s family enjoyed celebrating a Chinese Christmas service in Southern California. The recent Chinese New Year celebrations were a major event in Alhambra.
Most days Kevin travels 45 minutes to work on the bus. As the bus motors its way into downtown Los Angeles the passengers expand from being mainly Chinese, Korean & Japanese clientele to include Latino, Hispanic, Mexican and African Americans. It can be a bit surreal, especially when it's a cloudy, grey cold day, reminding him of the UK and he’s travelling through a suburb that looks like part of the Mexican city of Juarez, whilst being surrounded by conversations being conveyed in Cantonese!!l
Downtown he walks the few blocks from the bus stop to his office. Past the old City Hall and court buildings with men and women in suits, business outfits and briefcases. Past the police and LA County sheriffs’ personnel, milling around the law enforcement head offices. Past the LA Times building and on into the old city banking district with its majestic buildings and hotels. At one point these buildings were part of a banking hub that developed during the early years of the city and backed onto Broadway and its myriad of movie theatres. Later it became the “Skid Row” area of the city but the buildings are nearly all now converted, by the process of gentrification, into offices, lofts, bars, restaurants or hipster coffee shops and the Skid Row area has been squeezed in on itself a couple of blocks away.
Amongst these edifices, milling around, sleeping on the pavement or bus benches are the people who inhabit the streets of Skid Row. Over 15,000 people live in the LA Skid Row area, many pushing supermarket trolleys piled high with their personal belongings. If Kevin walks out from his office to grab a coffee he’s aware of men and women sitting and talking to themselves, some silently and quietly, some not so silently and some very animated. Skid row is also an area were some hospital/clinics drop off and leave mentally ill patients on the road. The Police are trying to stop the practice. Check out - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTIAwdn6QNQ&feature=youtu.be
The people on Skid Row live in a state of tension and face many real dangers. Check out this short video of two wonderful institutions on Skid Row: Union Rescue Mission and Officer Deon Joseph - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNIrGqGZLXc#t=309
(The homeless population in LA county is estimated to be as high as 80,000)
The building where Kevin works houses production companies, sound studios, a very funky and artsy book store, called the “Last Book Store” and the New City Church offices. The church has kindly given Oasis some office space that enables them to be based downtown. As Kevin sits in his office and looks out through the window he regularly hears the sirens and sees the police stopping and arresting people. He can get distracted by the buzz of helicopters flying overhead, people from Skid Row yelling at each other, due to bad relationship issues or just greeting friends. Some days he walks over huge power cables and passes parking lots, controlled by private security agents or off duty police officers. They manage lots filled with “star wagon” trailers, generators and TV/Film crew vehicles or lots that have been made into temporary kitchens to feed the plethora of people linked with that particular TV or film shoot. It could be CSI NY, NCIS LA, a new movie or commercial!
During his work day Kevin’s world revolves around the anti-human trafficking community focusing on prevention, support and reintegration. He works to create grassroots action in preventing human trafficking and develops resources and mentors community groups who work together to live out the reality of the love of Jesus and support and empower the vulnerable and/or survivors of human trafficking. Recently Linsey went out on a night ride, with a ministry based in Southern California that Oasis is networking with, to meet the girls who work out on the streets. She met various young girls and the team talked to those whose pimps were not close by. It was a heart rending visit, sometimes seeing the same girl in different places, moved around by their pimp. They call it the “game” but it’s a violent, abusive “game” for the girls and they never win
This world constantly reminds us of the horrendous oppression and violence that people, mostly men, regularly inflict on others. The hope is that it can be stopped and the girls cared for by people, churches and communities working together at a grassroots level.
On the days Kevin picks up Charys from school, he drives from Alhambra or downtown LA, up through some very beautiful and extremely wealthy neighborhoods into Pasadena. At Charys’s school she meshes into a mainly Hispanic and African-American educational community struggling for resources. The teachers are desperately helping their young adults develop in life, knowing that drugs, poverty and other social pitfalls are trying to entrap them. After picking up Charys he may travel to pick up Linsey at the Fuller community, a spiritually academic environment that is structured and has an element of shalom about it.
|On our front lawn at Christmas|
We all live in competing, diverse, overlapping and conflicting worlds.
We hope and pray that yours helps to give you strength, nourishment, grace and freedom as you do for it.