It started in Denver on September 18th for an Explore Facilitation Training with my colleague from Vancouver, BC; the Rocky Mountain team; the Short-Term department; the creator of Explore; and TEAM’s Director of Mobilization. This week was spent learning what Explore is in greater depth and how to facilitate it well (Note: Explore is a participant led experience that takes people on a journey of discovering what it means to be a global Christian in the current times). Additionally, the time was spent getting to deepen relationships with my colleagues through side conversations, hiking, and meal times. Denver was exhausting and energizing all at once. My physical and mental energy was tired from not sleeping well and being on the road; however, my spirit felt energized as I learned of another avenue to walk in the calling God has given me- to equip/serve the church. (Bonus: I got a visit from my friend Johanna- a PLU friend who moved away after getting married last year. IT WAS THE BEST!)
I flew back on Friday and then my crew and I headed to Oregon. After a quick weekend away to the Coast with my housemates- a.k.a. “The Wolf Pack”- I boarded an early Monday flight to LAX. My colleague would not arrive until Monday evening so I was able to spend the afternoon with my aunt at the Los Angeles County Art Museum (LACMA). It was such a joy to get to hang out with my aunt Jana. Her and I began connecting about 4 years ago and I am just so thankful to be able to get to know her and have time with each other whenever possible. I love my friends and I love my family and so the weekend with my housemates along with the small chunk of time with my aunt on Monday made me really happy.
Monday, Sept. 25th: Monday evening Anna Price, TEAM’s Church Engagement Coordinator, flew into LAX and I picked her up and we went to dinner close to the beach. Anna and I have never traveled together and it was a lovely surprise to find that we can travel extremely well together. The first two nights we stayed near the airport at a place that was a little bit sketchy. We were safe and the sheets were clean (praise!), but the first night there we were a little weary.
Tuesday, September 26th: The next morning we woke up for breakfast, did some work from the Santa Monica library, and then drove to Shepherds Church for a meeting with one of their Global Outreach staff. The connection with the woman we met with was fantastic and Anna and I walked away excited for this new church connection. We are praying that we can serve them and provide opportunities in some capacity in the coming years. I also had counseling that evening (via Skype) so we ate at an amazing soup/salad buffet so I could Skype from the car.
Wednesday, September 27th: Wednesday came and Anna and I headed to Hermosa Beach to enjoy the coffee and amazing gluten-free, vegan, paleo goodies that a local cafe offered. From there we drove south to Irvine Presbyterian to meet with their mission pastor. The mission pastor at IPC is a great man with vision and a strong heart for collaboration in service for his city. They are the sending church for a TEAM missionary couple we have based in Orange County and are moving forward with some great ideas for local outreach. It was great to visit the church in person and I am looking forward to what is ahead at IPC. After the meeting we headed south to San Diego where we enjoyed lunch at Cafe Gratitude (one of my favorite places!) and enjoyed the dishes “I am eclectic” (caulifower BBQ bites (GF/V)) and “I am liberated” (Pesto Kelp Noodles). We then walked a bit, checked in at our hotel, and took an exploration trip to “The Sunset Cliffs”. We hiked, we took photos, we sat in silence, then we went to dinner. Dinner was also a story all its own. The fire alarm went off, we were given a free drink and extra order of Ceviche, and the tacos were DELICIOUS. See below for all my food recommendations from this trip.
Thursday, September 28th: THE DAY OF MEETINGS. Normally having back-to-back meetings all day wears me out. Hence, it does not happen often. Due to our time restrictions though we had three meetings planned (and a fourth arise) on this day. Anna and I started by connecting with the husband of a couple who are planning to go long-term to Japan with their children to use creativity and the arts to bring healing from trauma. It was really good to connect with him, hear his family’s story, and learn about their church connections. Getting to cross paths with current, retired, and future missionaries is one of the highlights of working with TEAM in my book. From there we headed to Shadow Mountain Community Church where we first met with the director of missions and the administrator, Beth. It was an honor to hear both their stories, learn more about the church, and see in a greater extent how the church sends missionaries. Mark and his family served for years with TEAM and Shadow Mountain supports a handful of TEAM missionary units. It is so great to have a continued connection. After meeting with Mark Dalton we met with “the other” Mark and his wife Joanne. They are a couple who were serving with WEC for the past 10 years and returned just recently for a number of reasons. We were able to hear their stories, talk about the role of mobilization, and the mission coach positions that we are desiring to hire in LA/San Diego area. This was a really good meeting, great connection (yay for new friends!), and wonderful to hear yet another story from the field and transitioning home. LASTLY, we had a post-dinner meeting with a young man who inquired online the day prior to TEAM and we just happened to be able to match our schedules. It was good to get to talk with this young man in person, refer churches, hear his current journey, as well as to have Anna get to experience what talking with “leads/pre-applicants” can look like. We got to the room that night and were WIPED, but in the best way. We both remarked that the meetings were energizing, life-giving, and encouraging. What a way to end our time in San Diego.
Friday, September 29th: SAN FRANCISCO HERE WE COME! We took a slow Friday morning before driving back to LAX to hop on a flight to San Fran. Once we landed we high-tailed our exploration to Golden Gate Park… and then across the bridge to explore viewpoints (we saw Alcatraz!) and go for a short hike to the beach. We were there through sunset, hiked back to the car in the dark and then ran into sweet German college students who needed a ride back to town. We gave them a ride, had fantastic conversation, then grabbed a bite to eat (at another super great place!) before driving north to Santa Rosa for the night. Oh boy! Once we arrived at our hotel in Santa Rosa we were SKETCHED out. The front desk was one person and was remarking that they were lucky to have a clean room as the housekeepers hadn’t been showing up. Meanwhile, there is a woman smoking in the lobby and another woman walking outside in just her bra. Anna and I are thinking we will be fine… until we step into our room and the cigarette smoke hits us hard. Nope. Let’s see if they have a non-smoking available. We go back to the lobby and low and behold there are none. The gal at the desk gives us a refund and we quickly search for another hotel nearby. Granted it is already 10pm and we have a budget to work with. We ended up spending the evening at a delightful 70s-themed hotel called The Sandman. The rooms were beautiful and they supplied us with top shelf shampoo, conditioner and bar soap (links below).
Saturday, September 30th: SENDING CHURCH TRAINING. Saturday morning I got my coffee and we drove the hour north to Sonoma County. We walked into Middletown Bible Church and were warmly greeted by the hosts. Four churches were in attendance (including a Ugandan pastor and his wife) and they were eager to learn from Zach (Upstream Collective) and Anna (TEAM). I was privileged to intro and outro the day; however, my greatest joy came in sitting with everyone and going through the training myself. I can see what was taught being extremely beneficial for not only my church and networks in Tacoma area, but also Idaho and Alaska. To work for an organization that is Kingdom-focused, desires to serve the local church, and loves to partner and develop relationships with other organizations is a serious blessing. I am continually remarking that “though there are ups/downs, 2+ years with TEAM and I still feel like I am in the honeymoon stage”. I simply love- from the depth of who I am- to connect with churches and those interested in missions. I love to help equip, strategize, facilitate deeper conversations, etc surrounding the topic of “being” a Christian. How do we walk out our identity- in our families, friendships, locally and globally? How does the church equip its people to walk fully in their identity in Christ? How do we move forward as ambassadors? I love these conversations!
Anyways, after the training, we stayed and talked a bit, then drove to a CASTLE which was imported from Europe to be a winery in Napa Valley. It was neat. We then had dinner in Berkeley, dropped off the rental car at SFO, and went to our next hotel which happened to have a sign warning that “chemicals in the building are known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects”. Naturally, in the middle of the night I wake up having a hard time breathing and immediately think “IT’S THE CHEMICALS!”. Then it was 5am, we rode to SFO, ate breakfast and boarded our flights- Anna back to Dallas and myself to LAX for one last night (I had a RT ticket prior to the church training being scheduled).
Sunday, October 1st: AND HERE WE ARE. It is October 1. I got a quick visit with my California friends Lis and Caroline this morning then spent lunch and the early afternoon with one of my old college roommates, Abby. It was just what I needed after the busy week. The rest of the day I spent napping, working out, eating thai food, and now I sit here writing out my week. Ahhh. Ready. Take a breath.
To conclude, October 1st is here and my work trips are finished (for at least a few weeks). I fly back to Seattle tomorrow and am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, being with my people, being in my city and back to a semblance of routine.
It may seem like this was rambling, but I hope it gives some idea to what I do/why I travel. I am mainly writing this out for myself; however, it does come to my attention that a lot of my people don’t understand what I do. Also, the deeper passion/ calling that I feel towards my work and hence why travel takes place at times. I will attempt to write more about the process of passion and calling I have for what I do, but for now, if you made it here, then enjoy the photos and some of the recommendations below on places, food, and hotels in SoCal, San Fran, and Sonoma Valley.
Cafe Gratitude: Vegan and Gluten-Free (Beverly Hills, Venice, San Diego)
Puento: Mexican (San Diego)
The Source Cafe: Breakfast/Lunch; Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan options (Hermosa Beach)
Thai Plate Restaurant (Los Angeles)
Blue Barn Gourmet (San Francisco)
Casa Latina (Berkeley)
Sunset Cliffs (San Diego)
Golden Gate Park (San Francisco)
Golden Gate Vista Point (San Francisco)
Secret Tip: Hike to the bottom of the hill and go to the beach. There is a swing down there that you can “hang” on as you watch the sunset!
Castille de Amorosa (Napa Valley)
LACMA (Los Angeles)
The Sandman (Santa Rosa)
...and, if you are second guessing a hotel choice anywhere, choose the Holiday Inn Express- affordable and reliable!
Lastly, for great shampoo, conditioner and body wash check out the company Malin and Goetz.