Greetings from Hollywood. . .

So, I’m chillin at a cafe on Sunset Blvd., filching someone’s wireless connection, working on my talks, and hanging out with my Area Director, Nadine, who’s here for the week.

I got to LA on Saturday, after a horrifying 4 days of training in Denver. It was just a really busy, stressful time of forced sociability, people reading us pages and pages from our training manuals, and slim-to-no free time. The fact that the California/YW jinx has followed me and our Kids Club staff decided to go home on Thursday morning didn’t help, either. (Yeah, that’s right, the only staff at training to lose a team member, and it’s mine. I’m starting to see a pattern here. . .)

The drive from Denver to LA was amazing. The scenery through Utah and Arizona was some of the most incredible stuff I’ve ever seen. There was a 35-mile stretch of I-15 that went thru Arizona, and the kid I was riding with fell asleep, so I balanced my camera on the wheel and tried to take pictures while I drove. Colors, textures, mountains, grass, sky, clouds. Breathtaking.

My team members are awesome, and the loss of Emily actually helped bring us closer together. Tyler, our Site Director, is from Seattle and just graduated with a degree in youth ministry, and is totally on the ball and excited about the summer. Ricardo, our Urban Staff, is from Chicago; his parents came to the US from Mexico and became citizens through the 1986 amnesty. He’s my age, and he’s planning to go to law school at Notre Dame when he graduates. He’s a hilarious guy who always keeps us our spirits up. On Friday, we will be meeting our new Kids Club staff, Becky, who’s flying in from Colorado. A quadrant we will be again.

So, despite a few minor snags, things are going really well. YouthWorks is being totally supportive of us, and the situation is about 500 times better than it was in San Francisco. Our Regional Director, Jonathan, and Nadine have been here for us the whole time, reassuring us that they’ll find a permanent replacement and that they’ll do everything they can to keep things under control. So, despite all the work that goes into starting a new site (setting up the church, buying $1,500 of permanent equipment at Wal-mart, finding ministry sites and evening activities and nagivating the city), things have been going pretty smoothly.

LA is incredible – I like it so much more than I thought I would. We are living in Silverlake, which reminds me a lot of the Mission. It’s a kind of eclectic, artsy neighborhood with lots of different people, shops, restaurants and cafes. Jaime is the volunteer youth pastor at our church (he grew up in Los Feliz and is a Harvard-educated architect in Burbank, by day) and he rocks. On our first night, he invited us over to his apartment for a cookout with him and his friends (mostly grad students at USC and UCLA), where we are delicious grilled fish and veggies and hung out on the roof with his neighbor who was having a party to celebrate his newly-signed record deal. (It doesn’t get much more LA than that.) It’s just awesome to have a bunch of people my age to hang out with, learn about the city from.

So now I’m excited to get more into the community; I’m hoping to get down to Skid Row later this week just to get a feel for it there. It feels so good to be back out west, to be back in a Californian city, to have an incredible number of people to meet and hang out with and learn about. 38% of the nation’s homeless population is here in this city, and I can’t wait to spend time with some of them.

I’ll be heading up to San Francisco on Friday to spend Early Bird week there. I had no idea I’d get to go back to the City this summer, so that’s definitely a bonus. I’m looking forward to going to see Judy and spend some time in the Haight, as well as helping the staff in San Francisco this summer get their stuff going, give them any advice or help I can. Although it will be awesome to get back up there, I’m really excited to be in LA this summer and get a taste of what Southern California life is like.

I’m hoping to get some pictures up soon, once we get things settled a bit more and have more of our Prep Week chores accomplished. For now, I’m going to go back to enjoying the sunshine and the Nickelodeon studio across the street. . .


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