May 28, 2012
My experience so far and hopes
The last two days have been very enriching for me. Saturday, our first day of Micah was interesting. We went to What Now America to volunteer which was a great way to start the eight-week experience here in West Oakland. I have been to What Now America several times so it was another day of volunteering and having a great time with the kids.
After volunteering for four hours, we headed to the grocery store to shop. I thought it was going to be difficult to get every thing we need for a whole with only a hundred dollars, but we made it happen. We spent 98 dollars and forty-four cents. This experience was difficult, because we had to agree on what to get and what not to get and still be happy with each other. This experience thought me about the importance of working together and communication. It also opened my eyes about the power of community and the amount of time and work it requires to make every thing work well.
After that we created our community covenant. This was also an interesting experience, because I learned how complicated it can really be to live with people and the importance of communication to make living together work. I really liked the fact that we spent hours in doing this because I learned a lot of things about each person that I am living with, which gave me a heads up of what to do and what not to do. I also believe that the experience of creating this community covenant strengthened us as a community and prepared us for what is to come in the future.
On Sunday, I had a great time at church. Although I have gone to church for the last seven years, it was still interesting to observe another church and how they do their ministry. I found it very powerful that there were homeless people at the church. Most churches I have been to do not have homeless people in their congregation, but the fact that Convergence Church encourages the homeless to join their congregation is absolutely beautiful. Every church has it own way of doing the church service, but I really liked and enjoyed the way Convergence Church does it. People actually talk to one another and get to know each other during the church service for about ten minutes, which I found powerful and a great opportunity to know God’s people. I also found it very amazing that the church trusts God to provide with money and every other necessity. The church provides lunch for every one and it made me question how they are able to feed everyone that comes to church and still have money for every thing else. But I realized that the church is very devoted to knowing each other and healing one another to spread God’s love. I was absolutely amazed by every thing that they did and I hope to visit again some time during this coming eight weeks.
The Oakland scavenger hunt experience was by far the most powerful experience for me. It gave such a great opportunity to get to know West Oakland and its people. I learned about the importance of getting to know others and their stories. Although I have done this in the past, this experience made me realize that knowing other people is very important and powerful. We met several people both in our neighborhood and a little further but one that stood out to me was Mr. Ray. He has been staying in West Oakland since 1943 and he attends a Catholic church near by which is more 150 years old. He invited us to his church and was very welcoming. This experience encouraged me to get to know my neighbors more and to learn the issues in West Oakland.
I hope to learn more about the sense of community in West Oakland and also the violence, crime, and drug issues that it faces. I am also interested how the churches in the neighborhood minister to their own community. I hope to grow spiritually as well as I am serving and living in a community with others. I hope to read the word of God, pray, and serve more in order to have a deeper relationship with God.