Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My LA Experience

Well this last weekend I had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles. The school I volunteer for took the teachers to a Vincentian Symposium in LA.  They were flying us down so I took the opportunity and stayed in LA for the whole weekend (including Monday because there was no school on Columbus day). The best part is VSC West has another Volunteer house in LA, so I was able to stay with they and do a bit of exploring with them for free. So we left on Thursday evening and I am now flying back Monday night.

The Symposium
On Friday our keynote speaker was a lady (leave me alone I'm not good with names) that was currently in the process of transcribing these books of letters between Vincent De Paul and Luis De Marillac. The letters are in French because of their origins and she is making them available in English so that they can be translated into other languages, never really knew how important English is I guess. Nevertheless, there is a surprisingly large amount of letters between the two. They had worked together for 35 years before email, so I suppose it makes sense. The interesting part about this lady though is that she truly had a personal connection with St. Vincent and was able to really tell us about him and his interactions with De Marillac. 

He had such a strong love for the poor, but he wasn't always that way, in fact not until his 30s, almost 10 years after being ordained, did he find his true calling to the poor. Originally, Vincent wanted to be important, powerful, and be able to support his family at home. In his time, the easiest way to do all of this was to get into a solid career of the priesthood. Ironically though, during this time is when he first met Luis De Marillac.

Throughout the talk this lady pointed out that Vincent was the spiritual driving force and Luis was the one who would keep the hospital, shelter, or school running after it started. They truly were an unstoppable team that truly changed the face of poverty in France in the 1600s. Talk to me sometime about this awesome couple and their vision....because there is just too much to include in this blog tonight!

The LA House
At the Vincentian LA Volunteer house there are 10 volunteers. They are in the exact same program as me and we go on retreats with them every other month. The last time I saw them was when I first had retreat back in August. To say the least it was good to see them again and experience LA! While I was there I was able to talk to the LA house about their community, very different than mine. It was interesting though to talk to them and learn about the uniqueness of their community. 

Saturday they took me to Venice beach, the ironic part is the area actually had water canals! It was really cool to see.  At the beach we had a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and had s'mores. We then watched the sun set on the ocean, awesome. Once the sun went down we talked a bit more and then I went to play in the ocean. Since the tide was low I was running out and then back in with the waves, so much fun! 

Sunday we went to another beach and I ran a few miles on the beach which was great. Then we went to a street fair and listened to some live dubstep (currently one of my favorite genres). We also got free drink tickets for a bar so we decided to stop by (what do you expect we are volunteers!). The coupon was very vague... so I made a smart decision, asked for Gold Label Johnny Walker scotch... aged 18 years. That had to be the best glass of scotch I have ever had. After our drink, we went to the Hollywood sign. There is a path that you can hike to see the sign on the mountain. It was getting dark at that point so we climbed it n the pitch black.  This was by far my favorite moment in LA. Why? SILENCE! All you could hear on the mountain going up the trail was crickets. Crickets! I haven't had that type of silence since I was in Iowa, I truly loved it. It was also really cool to see all of LA on top of the mountain at night... there are sooooooooo many people in this world. Only one phrase could explain that sight, "beautifully organized chaos". The city's design was so beautifully organized, truly a work of art in a sense... but the second you get off the mountain and try and live/drive in it, it becomes the most chaotic feeling in the whole world. But I suppose you could say that about any micro vs. macro scaling.

Monday was a lazy day. I was able to chill out at the LA house and recharge my batteries a bit. I then left for "home" to San Francisco that night. 

On this trip, I learned one valuable lesson, I like my community here. No matter how much I struggle with it or feel like just being on my own, in its own weird way, it all works. I am grateful for my community and wouldn't trade them for anything right now. I guess sometimes it just takes time away from something to realize how much you really care for it. I won't forget that.

As always, pictures are below:
Two of my coworkers dancin' the night away!

Me and Snoopy having breakfast together, no big deal.
Beautiful beach day in LA!

This is what my students call me now.

Fire on the beach.. not quite Iowa but close... sorta.

Roasting weenies on the fire. mmm.

Watching a great sunset that seemed to last forever

Even in LA you can find Cycling events! 

Another nice day at the beach.

Look how the sun shines on the ocean. Awesome.

One of my VSC friends was wearing this hat and I figured it probably looks just as good on me too! right?

A free glass of scotch, aged 18 years. Yummy.

I know you can't see it but this is the Hollywood sign up on the mountain I'm about to climb
See! This is proof I saw the Hollywood sign! And yes I went right and not left!

LA with all it's light polution

The grid. This type of stuff you can only see in the movies.

Flying home... The sunsets are so beautiful in the sky!

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