Saturday, September 26, 2009

On our way to the Tiki Party

An interesting thing happened on our way to the Tiki Party last night.

Seems too much to share in a posting but we crashed a movie night at Latte Mi Corazon and ended up meeting Kevin LaChapelle: x-cop, now director of Power Mentor… He has a neat story and he was thrilled to meet us in the proces. ChrisTiana can tell the story better than I can but it was really interesting what Kevin does and who he is. Kevin told his painful yet triumphant story with joy… I think we all sensed that he felt blessed meeting us. That’s so funny because I think we felt the same way about meeting him.

Then we went to the Tiki Party where the rest of Ncom started making fun of me. I really don’t know why. It may have had something to do with not knowing Hector and Mariana or Marianna’s Tia who needs the cornea transplant. So why did everyone actually think I knew these people before hand…? I don’t know…but a stranger is a friend we haven’t met yet, right?

But while the rest stayed clumped making fun of me (just kidding), I (we) met Pachuco Jose. Jose was born in San Salvador but calls LA home. He has more of a stroy that he could tell last night night but he is a Latino 'Pachuco' musician that gives his time and talent to raising funds for those that need cornea transplants or maybe lost a loved one and needs help raising fund for funeral expenses. He taught me something about giving it away.

Peter stayed after we left. I would really enjoy hearing how it went Peter.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Tree Sculpture

Tree Sculpture, originally uploaded by hallywood.

Pretty cool work of art with some interesting inscriptions, in the garden next to the Einstein school.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gospel Reflection

Hopefully you have taken the initiative and read ahead since I was so late in giving the page numbers. This next section is full of grace, judgment, warnings, woes, practical ministry idea's, servant leadership, a last supper and betrayal. Needless to say there is a lot in this section. I would love to focus on being a servant leader and what that practically means for us in relationships with one another, with those in Golden Hill, in South Park, in City Heights and beyond. We need to me sheep on goats. There might even be drawing involved (yippee).

For Sunday Read 92 through the middle of page 102, ending with "And it was night."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Tangible, Sobering Kingdom

It's been nearly 3 weeks since I posted about Cynthia, an artist living on the streets of Golden Hill. I created an online store to help sell her bookmark-sized original works of art, put the word out to friends, and those first sevens pieces of art sold in a single day. It was more than a little bit awesome.

I couldn't wait to see Cynthia and tell her the good news. It took though nearly 3 weeks to track her down. The cell phone number I had for her didn't work, and I hadn't seen her in the neighborhood.

On Saturday afternoon though, while I was in the front of the house watering the grass, I heard a "hello." Looking up, there she was. "Hey Cynthia! I've got some good news for you." I can hardly describe how good it felt to say those words to her. Sophia and I invited her inside, talked a bit, and gave her the thirty dollars from selling her work on Etsy. She hung out for awhile, met our girls and my mom, and told us some more about our home "back in the day," when it was a run-down drug house. She's been in the neighborhood for many years, and has seen a lot.

On Sunday night she came back with over a hundred new works of art for me to look at, and choose which to post online. As we spread them out on the table that night, and looked through every single one, we were amazed both at her talent, and the hope that this seemed to represent.

She was back over again Monday night, signing the ones we're going to post online. We had a good conversation, heard a bit more of her story, and got to finally pray with her. It felt good, hopeful, and right. I also saw though some of the pain in Cynthia, hearing a bit more about some of what she's up against, some of her pain and loss, and how her life has been—in her words—on a decline for a long time.

She told us of her Van Gogh dreams, only unlike Vincent, she'd like to earn the money from her art before she dies. I don't know what will come of selling her art online. Really though, I'm not sure this is really all about money and selling art. That's part of it. There's something though about getting to know Cynthia and hearing her story. She's part of my neighborhood and the pain of it's past. And in a small way, I guess she's becoming a part of my family's story. I still don't know her well, and we had to have some sobering conversations with the girls about the realities of entering into the lives of desperate people who are hanging on by a thread. I've been involved in the lives of people struggling with homelessness, addiction and other demons, and it can be a really sticky, uncomfortable, difficult mess.

I also know though, that that's where Jesus is. On the street, in the pain of addiction, loss, and struggle. He's also in the passion and hope of cool art, and what it represents. He's in the good news of thirty bucks when it's really needed, a glass of cold water and a listening ear. He's in the eyes of Sophia, my mom and girls, as I watched them invite Cynthia into our home, treating her just like any other friend we might have over.

I know a little bit more of what Jesus looks like over these last few days, and it feels really, really good.

If you want to check out Cynthia's art, you can visit her Etsy store here.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Brain Trust

A group in nearby North Park, called Agitprop, is doing some very cool things in furthering community connecting and conversations around the medium of art. I'm really inspired by what I continued to see from these guys. Check out my post about it here.


Casa de Esperanza

Casa de Esperanza, originally uploaded by hallywood.

On Nov 20-22, 2009, a group of us are headed to Casa de Esperanza, located just south of Ensenada, to engage in some "tangible kingdom" efforts.

Casa de Esperanza (House of Hope) is a home for women who are victims of domestic abuse, and their children. With 65 residents, only two full-time staff and extremely limited resources, their needs are significant. We'll be partnering with our friends Reflejo, and a church from Orange County (TerraNova) in a three day experience of working and connecting with the women and kids of Esperanza.

Space is limited, so if you're interested, let me know pronto. Just comment on this post and I'll get back to you with details.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Two Cities...

San Diego/Tijuana
the most trafficked border in the world (70,000 a day).
Are they two cities, or one large integrated zone?

Shoppers cross the border, in both directions.
Families cross the border, in both directions.
Students cross the border, in both directions.
Church groups cross the border (maybe in just one direction).

It's an interesting question,
what does it mean to you to cross the border?

What are you looking for when you do?

The border as it extends into the ocean.
Families used to touch hands here,
Priests used to serve communion also.
But now there is a no-man's-land
in between and people can't approach the fence.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Glimpse of the Tangible Kingdom

I picked up the book, "Re Jesus" by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch this week. Chaz, Rebecca, Peter, Derek and I had started reading it together when we all still lived in LA. It was one of those books that got shuffled around in our move to San Diego and I'm not sure that any of us had a chance to finish it.

This morning I experienced something beautiful of the tangible Kingdom of God. Frost and Hirsch say, "...we are never alone when we do a holy deed because we partner with God in the redemption of the world. In other words, a deed done in His name is a means of Grace, a sacrament........and grace goes two ways: such an action pulls a person away from their own self-involved concerns and directs them missionally toward other human beings in such a way that they, the person acted upon and the person acting find God in a new way." (p.152)

Right after I read this quote and the words surrounding it, I heard someone yell out from the street in front of our house, "Ken, wait! We have something for you! Its a surprise!" I quickly looked out our window to see who it was.

Ken is a homeless man who walks by our house in the morning and evening every day. He wears all black and carries three large canvas bags. I've seen the couple who live across the street from us talking to him once or twice but this morning they stopped right in front of our window so I got to listen in.

The husband stood and talked with Ken while the wife rain into their home to get her "surprise" for Ken. I so enjoyed watching them interact....tears filled my eyes as I felt God was revealing Himself to me through this couple's act of love toward Ken. The wife ran out of the house with a new pair of jeans, nicely folded, and a banana. Ken had a big smile on his face in responded in gratefulness for the jeans and said, ".... and Bananas are my favorite."

I haven't met this neighbor couple yet but I want to. I don't know if they know Jesus yet. And I want to tell them that they encouraged me with their act of love toward Ken.

I have to add to Frost and Hirsch's quote.... not only does the person acted upon and the person acting find God in a new way but maybe the people looking out their windows get to find God in a new way too. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Celebrating Rebecca

On Friday we celebrated Rebecca's Birthday with a surprise costume party! Costume parties seem to bring out everyone's true colors..... :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gospel Reflection

Jesus desperately wanted the Lost Sheep of Israel to know Him as their savior but so many rejected Him. This broke His heart. They were looking for something else while Jesus was pointing at Himself. He did not do what they thought He should do and they missed Him. I think we do the same thing today by expecting Jesus to act according to our theology and not according to His character. Maybe that is why He told John's disciples to "not fall away on account of Him." We must learn to follow the Jesus of the Bible and not the Jesus of our dreams. That is the only way we will experience true life.
This week we are looking at Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. He wept for the city. Pay attention to the differences between what the people wanted and what Jesus was offering.

Read through the middle of page 92.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Investing in the Tangible Kingdom

Inspired by the book we're currently going through, The Tangible Kingdom, today I set up an Etsy Store for a local street artist (that is, an artist living on the street) in our neighborhood. She signs her art "incinders," but her name is Cynthia.

Instead of pan-handling, Cynthia creates original, one-of-a-kind bookmark-sized original works of art and sells them on the streets of Golden Hill to passers-by. She creates her art on found scraps of cardboard, packaging, gum-wrappers and paper. Using paint, markers and pens, Cynthia's style is whimsical and expressive, belying her harsh reality of spending her days on the street.

Since moving to Golden Hill in Fall '08, I would buy Cynthia's bookmark-sized art whenever I saw her on the street. Her story, only part of which I've heard, is one of heart-break and recovering addiction. But it's also a story of hope. Inspired by her upbeat attitude and use of her talent to try and generate a meager income, I decided to share the love by setting up an Etsy store to sell some of her work online.

The Incinders Etsy store is here. For six or seven bucks (come on, that's like NOTHING for original one-of-a-kind art!), I'll include shipping. Buy more than one, and the shipping on additional items is free. 100% of your purchase goes directly to Cynthia.

— Jon

Friday, September 4, 2009

Articles on Golden Hill History

I found these articles in Espresso (tell me what this means - an independent newspaper for café society). One is on Judy's "Big Kitchen" Café and the other on San Diego History:

Big Kitchen - 29 years in Golden Hill

San Diego's 240th Anniversary Goes Unsung

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gospel Reflection

Jesus is passionate, intentse, focused, couragous, loving, compassionate, kind and always radical to the surrounding culture. We saw something change in Him this last week as soon as Peter said that He was the Christ. Now He has set his face toward Jerusalem and He knows what is comming next.
In this next section we see Jesus telling multiple parables and teachings. Pay attention to themes that you see, new ones and ones that would connect to what we have already read.

(Read through the top of page 80)