Friday, June 27

Still Alive

Yep, I am still alive. The last week has been a whirlwind and I have had very little down needless to say, I have much to update you on. Last week we experienced what Californians refer to as a "heat wave". I'm not sure if I have previously mentioned that my room does not have air conditioning - but it doesn't...which up until last week was not an issue. However, during those several days of pretty extreme heat, I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I love the heat when I'm outside...but when there is no escape - it's tough. I didn't get much sleep...and for those of you that know me - that's not good. I know this is just one more way for me to somewhat be able to relate to the people I'm ministering to...once again, it's hard to complain - at least I have a bed, a pillow, and a roof.

I spent a good majority of my week at Skid Row last week. I was out there every afternoon feeding hot meals to the homeless. Mind you, hot meals on these very hot days...but the people didn't care, we fed 300 one afternoon. One day I was working the water table - and I was given the opportunity to see what it means and even what it looks like for one to be truly thirsty. Here's an excerpt from my prayer journal later that evening..."True thirst. It is evident. It is the longing that consumes oneself. It drives one - it sends one searching for something, for anything that will satisfy. Today I met thirsty people, I touched the thirsty, I conversed with the thirsty, I prayed for the thirsty. I looked into their blood-shot eyes and I handed each one a cup of cold water. Immediately the water was consumed. Ease overtook their countenance and a hint of grateful joy gleamed from those weary eyes. Many asked for more - I gave freely. That is the beauty of tasting and seeing that something is cannot help but be left longing for more. The same goes for my Jesus. He will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts (Rev. 21:6). Let me understand what it means to be thirsty.. make me a never-ending reservoir, a deep abyss so that You may rain down the fountain of the water of life. I defined by my thirst - so find me always with unquenchable thirst and perpetual hunger."

This week we have over 250 people here on short term missions. I love hanging out with the teams, I have been amazed this week by some of the youth we have had in here - their hearts are focused, their spirits broken, and their tears are ministry gets assigned different teams on various days and basically we just invade LA and do random acts of kindness. Yesterday we spent all day at MacArthur Park with different teams. We handed out free lollipops, Popsicles, balloons, and lemonade. Others were assigned to pick up trash in the park as well as a trash pickup along the streets. We also had an area set aside to pray for people. I wish I could give you a visual as to what all this looked like going down at once. This park is huge, and is divided in half by a psycho intersection with multiple bus stops - all I am saying is...this place was crawling with people, and here comes the Dream Center...signs in hand reading "Free Lemonade", "Free Candy", "Someone Sick? Need Prayer?", and "Dream Center Loves LA"... Many asked to be prayed over -- to be set free from alcoholism, while others accepted Christ right there on the streets. One older man walked by and caught my eye as he had the cutest little two year old holding one hand and a four year old holding the other. He began to explain that both his son and his daughter-in-law are in the Federal Prison - he wants someone from the Dream Center to go visit them and pray for them. My heart broke. The kids had obviously been put in his care. His heart was evident and his love genuine - but clearly he was too old to be caring for these young children. The kiddos licked a lollipop and patiently waited as their grandfather explained the situation...I just couldn't take my eyes off of them - so beautiful, so innocent. I think I have been pretty thrown off by peoples' receptivity to what we are offering and sharing with them. We live in an age of desperation...people are searching, people are curious, people are thrown off and really intrigued by a love that is asking for nothing in return. I wrestle with this as well - why is my love not more evident in day to day life even back at school...why do people not notice a love in me that is not asking for anything in return? It shouldn't take me handing out a free lollipop... Often times I fail miserably at sharing His love...In fact, I think I may just now be learning what that REALLY means...what it really means to love people daily - for the sake of my Savior. I know I'll forever be learning this concept, but I do feel like I am taking some steps in that direction. Praise God.

As for me...many of you asked just to hear how I'm doing and how you can be praying for me. I am doing really well...but to be vulnerable...Honestly, I have been feeling a little bit exhausted lately. A lot of this amounts to continually being on the front lines. The spiritual warfare that I am facing and that this ministry faces daily is the real deal. There are times when I am overcome by the demonic spirit of oppression that envelops LA...I have a very discerning spirit and it is obvious what is taking place in the spiritual realms when I begin to converse with some on the streets. With that, I am more than a conqueror when I am walking and operating in His Spirit - and there is no greater peace or joy than that. Satan does not like what is going on here, in fact he hates it...and the war that is being waged is evident. This can be exhausting and the minute I slip back into doing things Katie's way...I am done for. Pray for surrender. Pray for the people of LA, this city needs it. Pray for spiritual strength even more than physical strength. Pray for much love. Pray for a teachable spirit. Pray for focus..focus for today. Pray for my time alone, for times of quietness...this has been hard, being a girl in LA is different from being a girl in College Station...and I don't really feel comfortable going anywhere alone - combine this with my independent nature and you understand my need for prayer :)

To all of you - I cannot thank you enough for all of the letters, phone calls, boxes of greatness, emails, and encouraging words. I have been blessed beyond belief. You are too good to me...and everyone in my office is always jealous of my mail...and my roommates love all of you. I love it. You guys are the best.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 5:3

Wednesday, June 18

Faces & Places I Love

Here are a couple of pictures...Know that the majority of the places where I am doing ministry, it is unsafe and unwise to take pictures...or even to have a camera on you. I wish I could give you a better glimpse at life here, but this will have to do for now...

This is a park right across from the church I attend and down the street from the Dream Center - Echo Park. Very pretty...several homeless people here. The other day I saw a new TV series being filmed out here while we were doing a trash pickup outreach.

I love this little guy, Xavier. He rides my bus on Thursday evenings to church. He is adorable.

The girls in Hollywood one night. Yes, it's cold here at night - love it.

Xavier's sweet kicks. I couldn't resist...they were awesome. That's my boy rockin' the Nikes.

Ohhhh...public transportation in LA, have to love those buses. Adam is very focused on my black jack here...he is on mapquest trying to figure out where in the heck we are. I am just being weird.

This is actually at the beach...not that you can really tell. I love the tall trees though. And I was really excited to see some grass - this is seriously the only grass I have seen since I have been here.

Absolutely crazy kiddos...

This is of my most favorite people ever, for real. She works in the office with me and has been at the Dream Center for several years. Simply put - she keeps me laughing.

Monday, June 16

Just an Update...

Where to begin...? Let's talk about cold showers, maybe one of my least favorite things. They occur pretty often around these parts...and you never quite know when you are going to be blessed with one. Haha, somehow I have learned to just get over it, there's not much I can do about it, aye? (Those Canadians and their lingo..rubbing off on me) Secondly, let me tell you about one of my favorite places here..its called "Yogurt Land" and it is simply glorious. If you know anything about me you know that ice cream is the fastest way to my heart. This place has 21 flavors of yogurt...from cookies and creme, new york cheesecake, taro (i dont know what that is, but soo flippin good), peanut butter, etc. Upon entering this place you get a carton (literally, its huge)..and it is all self-serve, followed by a gigantic bar of toppings (self-serve as well) which includes every type of fruit imaginable, cereal, cookie dough, oreos, cheesecake bites..everything. You get the picture - it's phenomonal. Moving on to a more serious note...

The last couple days have been really good. Thursday I was out and about doing outreach in the morning and the afternoon. We had short term teams...and one day we had a lemonade stand on the corner of a busy intersection right next to a bus stop. It was eventful - and I had the most unique group of high schoolers I have ever seen from Idaho. Their youth pastor and his wife were awesome and their hearts amazed me. Youth ministry is such a calling - and the call was evident in them. I love to see and watch people living in the center of the Lord's destiny for their life. Thursday afternoon I was on the food truck...we went to two different sites...providing groceries for people. The truck was loaded down - and I was in the back with some other interns sitting on canned tomatoes. The food trucks travel to 31 different sites each week. I went to the Russian have to watch out for those Russians. They weren't the nicest of individuals...and you really have to watch them - otherwise they try to steal food when you turn your back. Or they will say, "Awww, but you are so beautiful, just ONE more for me!" They know how to work the system. It is so fun to spend everyday just blessing others - what in the world?!!!

Saturday...Adopt-a-Block went well. I'm getting settled into my site and beginning to get to know the people - I feel like the Projects are my second home. I was informed the other day that my site (Imperial Courts) is probably the most dangerous areas of Southern Cali (one of the men who went through the rehab program here told me that the other day). People always ask me if I'm fearful, and sure I have my moments -- but you can't go far around here without being reminded by someone that we have the Holy Spirit. We all know that - but do you believe it? Do you walk by faith into the unknown, into danger? If not, my assumption is you don't really believe...I've wrestled with this. Faith without risks is in fact no faith at all. I met a woman who has seven children...ages 10 and under. The two youngest kids are twin babies that are 3 months old. However, they looked extremely sickly and tiny...I held them, they weighed maybe 7-8 lbs. This was the family's first time to Adopt-a-Block and we were able to bless them with baby backpacks and a bouncer seat. About an hour later I saw this woman pushing her stroller with several of her small children alongside of her as she walked around the projects collecting alchohol from, beer, etc. This is when my job becomes extremely hard on me...emotionally. When the children are involved, which there are children always involved it kills me, this absolutely wrecks my heart. Hopefully I will get to visit with her again next week. Until then, once again - all I can do is pray...

Sunday morning I was back out at the Projects picking up children and families for church on the bus. On the way home that afternoon I was sitting with this little four year old boy, Kevin. He told me of his dreams to be a firefighter and how he was going to be a hard worker. He looked me in the eyes, and said, "One day I'm going to be able to go wherever I want to go, and then I'm going to buy me a house...and it gonna be lookin' clean, I'm going to keep it real clean". There went my heart again - it blew my mind that all this four year old boy wants one day is a clean house...what four year old says that? He then laid his head down on the seat (he said his tummy hurt), I scratched his back and prayed repeatedly "God bless his little soul...keep him for You."

Last night I went to church at Mosaic (Erwin McManus's church) in downtown LA. I absolutely loved it there. It meets downtown in the Mayan Theater...which is a nightclub. The worship was really powerful - church is just way different altogether out here in west. I like it. People are just real out here...add that with the whole "artsy" factor - it's awesome. I loved the environment and the Word was brought. I was sitting there talking with some of my intern friends and in walks American Idol's own - Jason Castro, my friend/aquaintance from A&M. He sat right behind me so we got to chat for a few minutes. There was another Aggie there as well who is interning in LA for the summer...Aggies are taking over the world, I'm telling you. Needless to say, it was good to see some people from's been a couple weeks.

I'm tired of writing...and I feel like this is just a pretty basic update. I hope today finds you all well - and oh yes...a little shoutout to Joel Upton who sent me some mail last week :) The rest of you - slackers. Ha...just kidding, love you all!

Wednesday, June 11

We Shall Reap...

I find myself today in the office - with not a whole lot to do this afternoon...this is a first. I have found that I like to get in here and get my work done...once I'm in the zone, don't even mess with me. The internet on my laptop is currently not working - so the blog has suffered just a little bit. Hopefully I will find time to get all that worked out soon.

This morning I had a short term missions group...we actually had about 50 people assigned to our ministry, but I had a group of about 15 from Louisianna - it was a group from their church's young adult ministry. Several LSU students and even a girl who just recently graduated from UT. We worked on a local block @ Echo Park which is located directly across from the church. We picked up trash and talked with a few people in the park...yes, serving the community in practical ways is not always glamorous, in fact - most of the time it isn't. Either way, I love it and I enjoyed getting to interact with some of these short term people. In the process of it all, we had to dodge video cameras...they are filming a new TV series out here. These short term groups bring a new and zealous spirit to the team each week.

Adopt-a-Block last Saturday went well. I was in a primarily Hispanic community (50% of LA is Hispanic) and I was wishing I had kept up with my Spanish after high school. Suprisingly I could communicate better than what I thought I would be able to. At our site there was a food truck as well. Food Truck is another ministry here that goes out daily to multiple sites to provide basic groceries to families...usually fruits, veggies, bread, etc. I played some soccer with some little boys - they were super cute. Following Adopt-a-Block all the teenagers from the inner city are bused back to the Dream Center for an afternoon of planned activities (a lot of Dodge Ball goes on around these parts), a free dinner, and the opportunity for the students to shower. They are then taken over to the church service at 5pm. Saturday evenings are geared for students, or as they put it "the young at heart". I wish you could experience one of these services...they are so fun, and you just never know what to expect, ever. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom...

Saturday night after church the young adult ministry headed out to the beach for a bonfire, hotdogs (nasty), smores, Cliff Bars (everywhere I look there are Cliff Bars) and some dangerous games of Red Rover. I cannot tell you how much I love the beach, especially when the sun is setting. I rode with a sweet couple from the church out to the beach - what a blessing. (First of all, they had the sweetest jeep ever, brand new, no top, so California)...but for real, it has been so fun for me to throw myself into the arms of the Kingdom of God. When you up and leave everything that you know for the sake of the gospel and the will of our Jesus - you have to rely on His church, the body - and it's a beautiful thing (I think I have mentioned this before). This is how the Kingdom was designed to love.

Sunday morning began early - 2 hours before the service was to begin I was on a bus headed to the projects to pick up kids and families. They send out about 10-12 buses and let me tell you - they come rolling back to church jam packed - it's incredible. I really don't know how we get the kids to kids church and then back on the bus without losing any - I was a nervous wreck, but these people know what they're doing. I must add - who knew there was some major traffic on Sunday mornings, what's that about? The projects in LA are just tad bit different from the projects in College Station. There a ton of them. They kept going and going...and one other slight difference - the big, heavy, black bars that cover all the doors and windows. It overwhelms my spirit - to pick up all these smiling faces who are so excited to go to church. Amen, that's a new idea, excited about church!! Somewhere in the process of it all, after church there were several people who got these ears of corn on sticks...covered in butter and hot sauce and sugar -- I thought I was going to throw up, the bus smelled like death...but it was so worth it.

I am settling in here well...I now have 3 roommates...yes, that makes 4 of us in a 12 x 12 room...glory. It is hilarious and flexibility is key. I feel like I share about 10% of what is actually going on here - and usually when I look back on these blogs I feel like it is a really random 10% - but oh well. I am learning so much about my Maker, myself, the beauty of brokeness, the reality of honesty, the joy of relationships, the interesting facets of office dynamics, the value of unity, and the danger of uniformity. More to come on all of these...

I leave you with this - live it out this week...wherever you are, whatever you are doing. This has been one of my repetitive prayers since I have been out in LA...
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, let us do good to ALL, especially to those who are of the household of faith."
Galatians 6:9-10

Monday, June 9

Your Turn

I would love to hear from YOU. Write me:

Katie Tucker
2301 Bellevue Ave.
Los Angeles, CA

I like M&Ms and cookies too.
For real though...your words of encouragement are so precious in this season :) I appreciate those of you who have already blessed me with your kind words. Know that this heart is forever grateful...and how sweet it is to see the Kingdom work.

Friday, June 6


So one day I was in the acquisitions warehouse...also known as the "Gifts and Kinds" warehouse - gathering different items for the some of the basic needs for blocks in our surrounding area. I asked Margaret (the lady who organizes all the masses of donated items, you wouldn't believe how much NICE stuff this place receives) .... anyways, I asked her if she had any little "nick-nacks?" She and Jonathan (who is basically like my boss) turned and cut their eyes at me and were like whaaaat did you just say...I was like you know "nick-nacks." Well, lets just put it this way - Jonathan and Margaret both went through the drug rehab program here several years ago and come to find out - thats a slang drug term. They were like "Katie!! We are not handing out drugs!!" It was hilarious and I felt like the ultimate white girl. (Adam, the other guy intern was unaware of the drug meaning as well, so that made me feel a little better).

I apologize for not writing more, I have been so very busy. Things have been crazy around here. I am so blessed. I have a great balance between ministry in the street as well as being a part of the administrative side. I got a desk and a computer this week and a name tag with my photo ID on it, so I am feeling official. Actually at one point this week during my training I felt like they were handing the entire Dream Center over into my hands - that was a semi-stressful moment, but it only lasted like five minutes. I love what I am doing here. This is what makes my heart beat - so much so that it scares me! Yesterday I went out with a ministry called "Under the Bridge" where we feed hot meals to the homeless. They go out 3-4 times a week (this is just one of the the 200 ministries here). Anyways, I was with some short term mission people and I enjoyed hanging out with them. Some were from LA - one of the guys is an actor who is on General Hospital. What a stud, and how encouraging to hear how God is using him in that very dark industry. Others were from all over the US...To put it simply, I love homeless people. As weird as that sounds, it's true. I love conversing with them. I love to hear each and every ones' story. I should have dyed my hair black before I came out here. The people on the streets are fascinated by my eyes, it kind of freaks me out - but I pray and I believe they see only my Father's love shining in my eyes...I know thats what they see - you believe what you want. I was especially intrigued with this one guy who looked way too young to be living on the streets. He was alone and looked about sixteen...come to found out he is twenty, his name is Cory. He began to tell us some of his story - and wow, this kid has seen it all. He just recently drove here from Vegas. At one point he lived in Texas and he shared his dream of going to Texas A&M. My heart broke...Long story short, we loaded Cory up in our van and brought him back to the Dream Center with us to be placed in our short term Hope for the Homeless Youth housing and I saw him at church last night. This place is serious - they do whatever it takes to get these people off the streets.

There are so many stories already...and I want to tell every single one of them - but that would be ridiculous. One evening I talked to a man at the coffee bar who works in the financial/accounting area of the Dream Center. Ohh the stories of financial history of this place. The Dream Center is run solely on donations from month to month. Each month it costs 600,000 dollars to cover all costs from water, electricity, and food, etc. He explained how incredible it is to watch the money come in each and every single month. This place is debt free.

Last night I was on a bus route to pick up people for our Thursday evening service. They send out multiple buses all over LA on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday for all of their services. It's funny...the driver would just pull up to the different stops and lay on the horn until they came out, but many were already outside waiting. We picked up some of the most beautiful children - they fascinate me. After church this four year old little boy (I seriously wanted to kidnap him and bring him back with me) - he kept looking out the window at the sliver of the moon and asking me, "Why is there only a piece of the moon?" He also told me about what he learned in church - "That Jesus is our Savior". He then offered me one of his cookies and the next thing I knew he was fast asleep. I shuttered when we dropped him back off...all I can do is pray.

In the office yesterday I spent an hour and fifteen minutes talking to a very distraught single mother of four...ages 16, 13, 6, and 21 months. She was in tears the majority of the conversation...her eldest is into dope and other heavy drugs and has been kicked out of every school imaginable - while her 13 year old daughter has recently starting cutting her wrists and is suicidal. How I ended up being the one on the phone with her is a story in itself...just the Lord. It is in these moments that I learn what it truly means to operate in the Spirit - because no words of mine can be of any help to this broken mother. She receives $39 a month for child support...I won't go into any more details - but it is cool to see how the Spirit gives words to minister when you are at a loss. She had no idea I am twenty-one...

Hate to end abruptly - but I have to go to work...I can't even call it work because I love it so much. I'll write this weekend.

Monday, June 2

To the Streets...

I never know how to start these posts...other than to just jump right into what all is going on. Since I last wrote - I have had a lot of time to hang out and get to know the other interns that are here. What a blessing...I am worn out from the ongoing spiritual discussions that we have...these people are so bold, so real, and I am eating up every bit of their wisdom. For a better idea of my newfound friends here you go - a 24 year old who is a Theology major nearly fluent in Hebrew...a guy who is currently enrolled in school at the International House of Prayer (love it), a pre-law student, the cutest girl ever from Singapore, a woman in her mid fifties from England, another guy from Florida who has been through a drug rehab program himself, my roommate who just finished her freshman year up in Seattle and has been assigned to work in the radio department (God is so funny), many Canadians, and weirdly a lot of Australians with the coolest accents. Beyond this, I have friended many who work here at the Dream Center who at one time or another spent a year going through the discipleship/rehab program here...this are the people that intrigue and amaze me the most. I love the way the Word is always upon their lips.

Friday night - we went to Santa Monica which was so beautiful. The beach and the mountains all in one glance...what more could you want? I ended up in the middle of a street performance with a bunch of black dancing men along with another one of the guy interns, Adam. How things like this happen to me...I just don't know - but it was hilarious. I love street performers. It was nice to get out and see some of LA. I wish someone would have told me how cold it gets at night around here!! It's not cold - what have you Texans done to me? But it is chilly. The weather is phenomenal - get me out of nasty Texas now...sick...I don't think I realized just how horrible the weather is there until I came here. My windows are always open, the sun is always out, and the best description is just - perfect.
Ok...I know what you are thinking -- am I actually working? Well, here and there..yes. My official start date is tomorrow and things are about to pick up tremendously. However, it has been nice for them to ease us into the culture out here. Saturday we did hit the streets for the first time. Every Saturday at 10am - Adopt a Block takes place. This ministry is the heartbeat of everything that goes on here and everyone participates. Basically, bus loads of people are sent out all over LA to do humanitarian type work and to just love on people. I went to Skid Row, which is one of the most dangerous areas of LA. To say I wasn't scared would be a lie...I was pretty dadgum nervous a lot of the time we were out there (I guess thats part of the first time). When we arrived there was a line of homeless people waiting for us in order to be fed. We fed them and then walked around the area passing out Cliff bars (thought about you Brooks), water, and Daily Breads/tracks -- asking people if we could pray for them. As we began to walk around, the leader of my group (a very large black man whom I stayed within an arms distance from the entire time) said to me - "we like to get right in there in the middle of everything, in the middle of drug deals, we like to break up those demons. You don't need an invitation Katie, the Spirit is with us." I just looked at him and took a deep breath. Once again, help my unbelief Lord. We saw drug deals taking place - cars driving up to the curb, taking care of business, and quickly moving on. I would converse with some and as we continued to walk I would learn that those were some of the biggest dealers. Deep breath again. Our journey continued to Heroine Alley where once again I was reassured as someone claimed "The Spirit is still here"...Here I believe I met an angel with her two young daughters. She was a believer and before I knew it, one of the Hispanic men in our group was beckoning me to come and pray over this woman and her children. She was very fearful for her small daughters' safety. What an blessed I was to hear this woman proclaim the goodness and power of her Savior right there in the streets, as she pushed a grocery cart with her entire life in it. Who am I that I should be here, that I should have this privilege to intercede on behalf of this daughter of the King? I am His.
I cannot tell you how rewarding it is to minister alongside many who have been where these people have been. They know, they understand, they communicate so well. When any doubt would linger in my mind - within seconds it was like the Lord whispered to me: Look Katie, as you minister you are seeing the very fruit of your ministry through the people that are right beside you ministering as well. Wow. It's been the coolest thing to see here - these people know what genuine discipleship looks like and it is encouraging to see - I believe this is an area that the church lacks greatly across America.
I love this place because they see a need anywhere - and they fix it immediately, I am talking like within ten minutes. Little discussion and much action. Amen. Some more words of wisdom that have been given to me since I have been here .. "Don't ever offer a suggestion without willing to be part of the solution." Woooo...count me guilty...I am full of suggestions, yet much less willing to be a solution.
Until next time...