Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Dance I did at Mosaic

I just figured out how to put videos on my blog. I wanted to practice, so I put this video on. This was a dance I did for church. I thought you would enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My thoughts on the March 25th Protest on bill HR 4437

This last Saturday, my team and many of my neighbors participated in a citywide march. The march sought to peacefully respond in opposition to HR 4437. I know that many of you out there might agree with the law being passed and you have your reasons...but I wanted to take a moment and share my feelings about it all.

"When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. Lev. 19:23

"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God." Lev 23:22

The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God ---Lev. 19:34

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing" --Deut.10:18

"And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt." Deut.10:19

It is so easy for us, as humans, to selfishly think about our own needs first. So much so that we never even consider how our needs could hurt another living and breathing human being. We are worried about enough jobs, we are worried about our welfare system, and about our own opportunities....but for some reason we are not worried about the people God is bringing into our country to love or about the reasons why they so desperately long to leave the conditions they are came from. Jesus said "Freely as you received, freely give" Matt 10:8. If this is true: why are we so bent on hoarding the things that are given to us, why are we not trying to help others or willing to share the wealth with those who come here.

The verses I added up above are about how God feels about the Alien or the immigrant in our land. And they are verses that He asks us to live out. He commands us to love, treating people with dignity and respect regardless of where they come from. The immigrants in our land are human beings and deserve to be treated fairly. The bills we create and pass should reflect that. When we begin to create bills, and feel right about creating bills, that inhibit people and take away their options, we have to ask ourselves "What has happened to our hearts? When did we become like pharaoh? When did our hearts become hardened to the needs of those around us? What is the depth of poverty to our own soul that we would support laws like HR4437?"

It saddens me that we have gotten to a point as a nation where we feel the only way we can solve an issue is by being harsher and stricter. And I am amazed at how easy it is for us to objectify and vilify a group of people, enabling us to make overt judgments about them as a group and separate them as bad. We would not feel the same way about this law if it was directed towards those we loved and knew personally.

For those of us as Christians, I think, we need to re-evaluate our thoughts and opinions and ask ourselves if they are in line with what God asks....

March 25 The protest against bill HR4437

This a local reporting of the peaceful demonstration against bill HR4437. For those of you who do not know, this law would make it felony for anyone to aid or help an illegal immigrant, as well as it would place harsher restrictions on illegal immigrants(including making it a felony to be undocumented) in this country. I have my own thoughts and will be adding them soon! In support of our many neighbors and in how this bill would effect the work we are doing in LA, our team participated in this event.

500,000 Rally In LA For Immigrants' Rights
No Arrests Or Injuries Reported

POSTED: 10:17 am PST March 24, 2006
UPDATED: 7:48 pm PST March 26, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- Members of the United Farm Workers union rallied Sunday to mark union founder Cesar Chavez's birthday and to protest a pending federal legislation aimed at stopping illegal immigration. About 4,000 people marched through downtown.

The rally came a day after one of the biggest demonstrations ever in downtown Los Angeles. An estimated 500,000 people jammed the streets around City Hall on Saturday, many chanting "Si se puede," or yes, we can.

In addition to unions and Latino groups, such as La Hermandad Nacional Mexicano, Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony drew attention to pending immigration reforms a few weeks ago when he announced that he would encourage his priests to render aid to immigrants even if that were outlawed.At issue is HR 4437, a sweeping immigration reform bill expected to be debated on the Senate floor on Monday.

The UFW rally advocated for "the need for immigration reform that respects the dignity of every human being in the U.S. and therefore (we are) calling for the legalization of the undocumented who are here," union activist Alvaro Huerta said.

Activists marched to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for a 2:30 p.m. Mass in honor of Chavez.

Participants pledged "support for meaningful immigration reform" and oppose "inhumane legislation such as recent action by the U.S. House of Representatives that would make felons out of undocumented immigrants and those who help them," Mark Grossman of the UFW said.

Despite the huge crowds on Saturday -- veteran police officers said it was biggest demonstation they had ever seen -- no serious problems were reported. Police did declare a tactical alert, but that was done chiefly to ensure enough officers would be available for crowd control work.

No arrests were made, police said.

One counter-demonstrator was pushed to the ground and escorted away by police, and an American flag went up in flames on Broadway near Seventh Street.

Javier Rodriguez, one of the organizers of the rally, said the demonstration was meant to be nonviolent.

"We appealed from the beginning of the process for a peaceful demonstration of the anger and the frustration, but at the same time, the aspirations of the immigrant community and the rest of the sectors that support immigrants," he said.

He said some people estimated the crowd at closer to a million people, and that planning began just three weeks ago for the rally, which was done on a $5,000 budget.

He also noted that the American flag was burned far away from where speakers were orating at City Hall, and that organizers had no idea who the flag-burner was.

The House bill by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis, would stiffen penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and those who smuggle them across the border, among other things.

One sore point for demonstrators is a provision that would make illegal immigration a felony -- a deportable offense.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who rose to power through union organizing, addressed the crowd at City Hall.

"We cannot criminalize people who are working, people who are contributing to our economy and contributing to the nation," he said.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, also attended the rally.

"We believe in the American dream, and all we want is that dream to be made available to all who work hard and want to benefit from it," Nunez said. "We don't want a handout -- what we are looking for is sensible legislation."

HR 4437 also would require employers to verify Social Security numbers with the Department of Homeland Security, increase penalities for immigrant smuggling, and stiffen penalities for undocumented immigrants who reenter the United States after being deported. If passed, it would also authorize $2 billion to build barriers along the entire Mexico border.

"The fence is not the answer," said Hilda Delgado of the Coalition for Immigration Reform Los Angeles, one of the event organizers. "The solution is immigration reform. Help these people. They are already working here. Some of them have been here 10, 15, 20 years. They live here. Their kids are from here. They keep this economy going. They pay taxes."
President Bush has been pushing for a guest worker program, but does not support amnesty for undocumented immigrants because he says it would effectively reward law breakers, putting them ahead of immigrants who seek enter the country legally.

Many illegal immigrants have children who are citizens by virtue of their being born on U.S. soil, and some activists have expressed fear that mass deportations would separate families.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who immigrated from Austria, was at Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades for the unveiling of Rogers' just-restored home.

"You cannot continue just avoiding it and looking the other way and pretending like the problem doesn't exist," he said. "We have a serious problem. It affects our state. They should secure and they should do everything they can to solve this problem."

He also said he would support guest worker program, but only in a controlled situation.

County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said he supports Sensenbrenner's bill.

"I feel it deals effectively with the catastrophic effects illegal immigration have had on the county," Antonovich said. "It provides the necessary penalities and reforms that are now lacking and which have created a magnet for illegals to enter our country."

But protest organizer Rodriguez said undocumented immigrants are essential to America's labor force and should not be criminalized. He and other speakers called for an economic boycott under which immigrants would stay home from work to show how important they are to the economy and everyday life.

"The national economic boycott is a dream of Latinos in this country to show the people who are anti-immigrant that we are needed," said Rodriguez, who compared the march to the black civil rights movement. "It's like the boycott in Montgomery (Alabama). It's the same thing."

"We will not accept less on the immigration reform than the path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented immigrants that are in this country," Rodriguez said.

"When we look the other way when the people wash our cars, take care of our children, clean our homes, we all know that most of these people do not have any documentation, so it is a double standard in terms of both nations, but both nations need undocumented immigration," said protester Carlos Zavala.

"We're not felons," demonstrator Carmela Constancio told NBC4. "A felon is someone who rapes a child. A felon is a drug dealer. People who just want to live and work are not felons."

Friday, thousands of students from Huntington Park, South Gate, Montebello, Jordan, Garfield, Roosevelt, Washington Preparatory and Bell high schools staged walkouts to protest the bill, and a delegation of 35 Southern California religious leaders will fly to Washington, D.C., today to urge Senators to oppose the measure. CNS-03-26-2006 05:08

Rally Planned For Saturday

Thursday, March 23, 2006

LAKERS VS THE TIMBERWOLVES, The Urban Plunge, and a visit from ABI's family

This last week has been an amazing time for me. It has been a time to be challenged, a time to learn about myself, and a time to be blessed by others. On Wednesday of last week, I led what is called an Urban Plunge. This is a day when people from outside the neighborhood come into our community and experience the ministry we are doing here, as well as they get the opportunity to see how God is at work and very present in this community. Those who usually come are donors, staff from other ministries, friends from out of the area, etc. My job was to take them through various activities, allowing them to experience what we are all about. Our guests were led on a prayer walk, heard about the tenant rehabing of a building called Cambria, got to participate in our tutoring program, and meet some of the Mentors in our Mentoring Initiative (I want to share more, but I won't because I will be writing more in my next newsletter).
What I find special about these times, is how God uses them to touch people... whether it is the mentor who shares how her life has been impacted or it is one of the guests understanding for the first time how there is Hope in communities like God is very PRESENT in this place!

After my day with our guests, I was blessed by a friend of mine from the neighborhood. Laura got tickets to see the Lakers play the Timberwolves at the Staples center. And she asked me to go! Basketball is one of my favorite sports and though I don't watch it much on TV, I do enjoy a good game. And who could pass up seeing the Lakers take on the team from the state I went to college in! ;-) I was really blessed to spend time with Laura and share that time with her. We has so much fun cheering the Lakers on, particpating in the various activities they have you do during a game, and being so close to the court (Row 21)...Awe yeah!

Also, during this week Abi's parents came to visit! On Thursday, they took me with Abi to Newport Beach to visit a friend of their's(for our day off). We spent the day on the beach, talking, and sharing. It really was a blessed time for me. And it was a time in which God used to challenge what I have often felt and known. And there is a big difference in hearing there is a different way to live and seeing it lived out before you. Abi's parents were that for me, they tangibly helped me to see what God speaks of when He talks about loving others and treating people well. And though, I do see this often in the lives of my teammates, it was specificlly good to see it in the lives of parents acting it out in relationship with their daughter. It was a beautiful thing to see how they loved and cared for Abi.

And last, but definately not least....we had another yard sale this Saturday! And that was a wonderful time as well. I got to visit with a lot of my neighbors. And we got to see how God is using the vision John has for economic development in the community and bringing it into fruition. Two more people from the neighborhood helped us sell items and were able to receive much needed supplimental income. We, also, had some people buying items, so that they could resell them on Ebay to help support their families!! YEAH! I am more amazed daily at how awesome God really is!

I love you guys very much and hope you are all doing well! Please see the various pics I have included in the posting. They are of the game, the yard sale, and my time with Abi's family and their friends!!!

The Game
Laura and me at the Game
Kathe(Abi's parent's friend),Abi,and...Me!
The Yard Sale