It has been almost a quarter of year since I last wrote. I have no other excuse other than I am too me to have written. In my time here in Hollywood, I have learned to embrace others and lean on them for support. Whether housemates, city director, friends in the neighborhood, or friend in the bible study I attend, I have been turning to them more to process and seek understand of my life here in Hollywood. The last few months went by quickly. We have expereinced tragedy and joy in the last 3.5 months together. In the begining of May we did a service retreat. As part of that retreat, we met Lianana. Linana is living in a church in Simi Valley, claiming Sancturary, as she is in the US illegally. Her husband, and three children are all US citizens. This seems so wrong to me. We say we are a land of equal opportunity, that all men (women) are created equal and have inalienable rights, yet in the next we condemn those who flee to the US seeking sanctuary from either oppression, both economic and political. While I have grown up around the issue and even been educated about the issue, Lianana's story touched something in me. While on this retreat, one of the women in the neighborhood (C) was struck by a drunk driver and killed. We heard about it on Saturday night. Together we all hit shock and denial. It seemed surreal that she could be dead. She was like a second mom to us. She was one of the first women who opened her door to us and welcomed us in. After talking as a house and with the church C attended, we hosted a neighborhood memorial at the community house. We guess about 200 people came to honor C and her family. It was actually healing for me, to be able to greive with others and to hear the stories of how C impacted those around her. She has left behind 4 children and a husband. The situtation is more complicated as both C and her husband were here illegally, yet all four of their children are US citizens. At the moment they are working with the US immigration office seeking the best option for the family.
May and June had us celebrating 3 birthdays. Myself and two of my housemates are born within 2.5 weeks of each other. It was a time of sharing the gift of life and laughter. Kids in our neighborhood made us cards, and gave them to us with huge smiles on their faces. Personally, as we celebrated with my "DOOR family" this year, as our national director and DOOR guru were here for a board meeting made it all the more meaningful.
The garden is done!!! We have had our first round of strawberries and the second round will be done within the week. We have enjoyed zuchinni, eggplants, and herbs fresh from our garden. When we began in January, it seemed a daunting task, now it is worth the work. The kids in the neighborhood love to come and water the plants, help weed, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. It has provided amazing opportunities to really invest in the neighborhood, both with children and adults as many conversations have started because one of us is out in the garden working.
As I look forward to the next 5-6 weeks, I find myself asking where did the year go? I am excited for what lies next (still up in the air), but also sad as I prepare to say good-bye to my roommates, and see you later to the neighborhood. I know it is going in to more than capable hands, with Alex, Curtis, Kenna, and Will coming to Hollywood next year. As I prepare to say good-bye, I wrestle with how I do I honor what this year has meant for me. I have grown in ways I am still discovering, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Thank you seems inadquate for those who have opened up their lives to me this year. Who have allowed me to hear of their own pain, in hopes of finding healing of my own, who have supported me through great days and crappy days, who gave me space to grieve when a client and C passed within a week of one another. Who have been prayer warriors for me this year, giving me space to vent, and be honest not only with them, but with myself as well. Thank you to each of you as in someway you fit the above.