Aloha friends, family & supporters:
Bay UP 2013 has been a journey of discovering more of who I am and how my story helps me to connect with those around me. I’ve learned that I need to first know my own story before even beginning to understand someone else’s. I’ve also come to find that the people here in Oakland are so willing to open up and share about their experiences. In the duration that I’ve been in Oakland, I have met so many different people and each one having a different story from the next.
As we successfully stuffed 7 peoples’ dirty laundry of two weeks into two washers at a Laundromat (Yay for community laundry!), Afton and I happened to run into conversation with one of the workers there. She is an older Korean woman who has been working there for 15 years and as the conversation went on, we continued to ask her questions like how she came to Oakland, what brought her here and what were some things she likes about living in Oakland. Something that I noticed as we were talking with her was that everything she had to say was positive things; she mentioned Oakland being such a great place with a broad range of ethnic diverse peoples. This slightly took me by surprise because I was brought up hearing things from friends and family and seeing things on the news about Oakland involving a lot of violence, but seeing, hearing and experiencing this different side of Oakland has been an eye-opening experience.
As mentioned previously, I am one of the three other students that have been working at CityTeams, plus Jason, our staff leader. CityTeam is not only a rehabilitation center for these men, but a recovery center. It has been such an experience having the privilege of getting to know the men in the program. After sharing several meals together, going on ceasefire walks in the community, playing games, going to picnics and AA meetings, working alongside each other and sharing countless stories and conversations with one another, the four of us have grown pretty close to these men. So close in fact, that we are referring to some of them as “Dad” and “Gramps.”
I wish I could elaborate more about how God has only begun to transform me mentally and spiritually in my experiences here in Oakland, but since I am using a computer in the public library, I am limited to 30 minutes with less than three minutes left on the clock! But please continue to keep us in prayer as we discover more about our own stories and this journey of seeking shalom and justice within the community.
Mahalo and Aloha,