CRPs latest addition to Oaklands mural collection - free to the public. A welcome into the MLK Arts Corridor on which we have a total of 5 murals. I was away at a staff retreat this weekend so I didn't get to join in on the fun, even though I was itching to but I did get to come in at night and add the clouds. Location: MLK and Grand Ave behind Oil Changers.
MLK Jr. Dorothy Irene Height (March 24, 1912 – April 20, 2010) Look her up. Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940) If you don't know - look him up. I did.
So a few months ago this guy comes in to Regen one Sunday and tells me he's homeless so I refer him to Craig, the director of our homeless ministry and he comes back with some clothes and a sleeping bag. After that Andy started returning each Sunday asking for money. We genuinely wanted to help him so we would talk to him about life, try to employee him, help him find free English classes and set up appointments for him at the Asian Health Center. All of which he didn't show up for. We even walked him to the locations, but even then he wouldn't follow up or attend the placement exams. It didn't take us long to realize that things weren't adding up as the lies started slowly unraveling. It also became clear that he has some sort of mental disorder, we still haven't been able to get him diagnosed but it seems to be some sort of autism or aspergers. It's been pretty frustrating for all of us to deal with Andy. His lies, his unwillingless to help himself even when we are, his persistant requests for money (I'm not talking a dollar or 2, I mean like 5,000 dollars), his peeing on the toilet seat, the way he rings the already annoying doorbell for an extended period, requests or just taking of food, attempted theft of money, and the way he makes the girls uncomfortable. Rules needed to be established if he wanted to continue coming here. So we talked, agreed and he wrote them down then we both signed.
This past Sunday Tyler form Harbor House brought in some cupcakes that his youth made to fund their projects. There was a clear sign indicating what they were for and a cup full of cash sitting before them. Andy comes in and without hesitation proceeds to comsume one of the cupcakes. In the middle of conversation I see from the corner of my eye and grab him. We head to the chapel and proceed, 3 rounds of wrestling and then a nice heart to heart where Andy apologizes, understands why he was wrong and agrees to never do it again. Great right? Wrong. We head into the sanctuary to participate in service, I notice Andy dips out but think nothing of it. Then I get a report that Andy has taken coffee and another cupcake, but that he had taken off. So I run out and look for him, spotting him just over a block down. I run after him. In my anger I did yell you're dead when he was in earshot. He spotted me and tried to juke me but my recently marathon conditioned legs easily caught up to him, after weaving through some trees and maybe a car. I grabbed him and tackled him to the ground and I asked him why. He replied because I was hungry. Wrong answer. So Justin comes over as I'm sitting on him. After I get off Andy calls the police. We wait about an hour before the police finally come because clearly being wrestled to the ground is so 911 worthy in the third most violent city in the nation where people get shot almost daily. I tried to call and cancel, after some convincing Andy even attempted to tell them it was joke but policy says they have to report to every 911 call. They get here I tell them the story, Andy tells his (lying in the process by telling them I beat him) and I show them the contract, they give Andy a short lecture, tell me the match up seems unfair and then leave. I didn't even need to say anything given that the chocolate evidence was still around his mouth. The entire thing was frustrating from beginning to end.
He's 23 but acts like a 10 year old. He has his problems but he knows the difference between right and wrong. Even a 3 year old does. The easiest thing would be to write him off as incorrigible and never deal with him again, but I know there's a reason he comes back day after day. We're his only friends. We're the only ones that really try. He might not get it but at some level he knows we care. And more importantly it grows me in places of my life I need most. So I will continue this dysfunctional (extremely patience trying) relationship but I'll also continue to enforce the rules (stress relieving fun. yeah!).
It’s been a while for some of you. Let me know seriously how you are doing. I really want to know and if I knew how to manage my time better and had endless amounts of cash I’d go and hang with all of you.
So a quick update. I’m still up here in Oakland, my third year in the reportedly third most violent city in America. I still work for Regeneration Church, working to help transform community and change the culture that feeds into gangs, drugs, sex trafficking and violence. As a part of that I get to plan and host college and high school groups from as far as Texas who come in see what inner city urban life looks like, with my personal goal being they fall in love as I did and come back to serve here. I'm also involved with the launch of Commuity Rejuvenation Project, a non-profit that aims to beautify Oakland through murals, gardens, cleanup, food, celebration all the while engaging the local communities. I invite all of you to come and visit. It’s honestly not anything like you’ve probably heard, Oakland’s the most beautiful city I’ve ever lived in because there’s such a beauty in people coming together to rebuild the fabric of a broken place. As a part of my job I get to work directly with a lot of these amazing people. It’s so awesome, I really feel fortunate to be where I am but sometimes I feel like I need to get away, so after much thought and prayer I’ve decided that instead of going on a wasteful vacation I’d go to Haiti and serve the needs there. I know I’ll be the one getting served, coming back shifted from the experience but I know that’s something I want to do and bring back to share with all of you.
Clean up and work on post quake construction projects.
Support families with rice deliveries.
Serve hot meals in La Saline (a poor neighborhood in Port Au Prince)
Be open and willing to do anything that needs to be done.
And lastly but most importantly spread the love that was unconditionally given to me.
Prayers and encouragement, I seriously can’t do this alone, I am self centered and full of pride. And if you want to partner with me financially, the trip will cost me $1400 total, with $700 going towards room and food for the week, transportation, an outing for the orphanage children, food for a feeding outreach in La Saline and building supplies for a construction project we will do out there. The remaining $700 will go towards airfare.
Regeneration P.O. Box 10045 Oakland, CA 94610 (made out to Regeneration, memo line: Haiti or Dave)
If you have any questions at all about what goes down in Oakland or the trip to Haiti or you just want to catch up feel more than free to get in touch.