Dream Center – Jesse’s First 2 Weeks

(Taken from an e-mail update he sent with some small edits for grammar/punctuation.)

Wow, where to start? Time is so different here that the past 2 weeks feel like months. It’s truly amazing.

Things the first day were the only slow part of my DC (Dream Center) experience, all just hurrying up and waiting. The second day, I hit the ground running, started work in the DC Diner aka the Dream Center cafeteria doing food prep work and service. Afterwards, I just hung out with some other interns sharing testimonies. The next day was more of the same: working, hanging out, and growing closer to God. Eventually, Thursday crept in and I had a blast at The Angelus Temple service, which was a concert with a very moving message. The days went on along this general guideline.

Then Saturday rolled by, which was an amazing experience of worship and prayer followed by a rally and meeting of the various Saturday Adopt-A-Block ministries. I ended up with the Food Trucks that give away fresh produce and groceries to the needy on the streets. I found out, later, that I went to the wrong job, but was still very pleased that I was able to help in any way that I could.

Sunday was another interesting day, the main service by Pastor Matthew Barnett was very good. After attending the first service, I worked with the 40+ 4-5 year old class. Let me tell you, I was more whipped after that then a week in the kitchen. Those kids are just energy sappers, especially when I’m always on an empty stomach.

Monday was a rough start for me, I ended up being awakened with a call from my boss asking if I was going to work since I was late to breakfast. I rushed to get up to my meeting site and was 5 minutes late. So far that is the only thing that’s hindered my work.

I absolutely love this place! The people here are amazing and God is always the focus of everything that happens here regardless of what you are doing.

On average, the kitchen I work in feeds 300-500 people every meal. I work and serve 2 meals a day for 3 days. My side job on the weekends is called Under The Bridge. We serve about 50-60 homeless each day. In my job on Mondays and Tuesdays, I help pick up about 2000 pounds of donated food from 7 Albertsons stores in Los Angeles.

Needless to say, I’m always on the move since there is always something going on and a need to be filled. I’m just so glad that I am able to be apart of just some of what God is doing here and am able to fill a need each and every day.

Jesse Z

If you would like to support him in his ministry, he has put together a sponsorship letter explaining how you may contribute to the great work he is doing at the LA Dream Center. We will continue to update you on his many exploits going forward and ask your prayers for him.

Download: Jesse’s Dream Center Sponsorship Letter

Huntour ends the summer for Jesse

This past weekend, we went to the Glasshouse in Pomona to see the Huntour concert. Doors opened at 2 pm, so we arrived early around 1:30 to get in line. We met up with James Mattern and his wife of Divine Metal Distro/Open Grave Records as we had an extra ticket for them. We enjoyed talking to them until the doors opened and we made our way inside the venue. It was a small concert hall and reminded me of the Whiskey A GoGo in Hollywood where we saw our friends Martial & Dave play a few years ago. The afternoon kicked off with D.O.A.R. (Destruction of a Rose) and they brought it. Great band with polished stage presence. Next up was Faith Snakes, but they were not received very well as they had more of a punk sound than metal. We took that time to sneak out and grab a bite to eat at Joey’s BBQ just down the street. After a brisket sandwich, we made our way in to catch the last half of the set by 7 Horns, 7 Eyes. They were alright for what we heard of them. Next up was Hands and we enjoyed these guys very much. Jesse later decided to get their CD. After them was The Great Commission and they reminded me of my early days in Christian Metal. Their style was very hard and heavy, but their message was very straightforward evangelism. They also had a female guitarist that brought the guttural screams very well. She also busted out the helicopter/windmill head swing which I hadn’t seen on stage in years. Jesse also got their CD.

The final three bands were who the crowd had come to see. Focused had reunited just for this show and brought what was known years ago as “Spirit-Filled” hardcore. They were very tight musically, but you could tell their lead singer was getting spent by the effort of performing at such intensity. He had all of his family in the crowd to include some under 8-9 yrs of age. They were good, but you could tell the lead singer was exhausted by the end of their set. Next up was a band we were really looking forward to, Living Sacrifice. I had listened to a little of them back in my day, but Jesse had really become a fan of their since we picked up a collection CD of theirs for him at Christmas. These guys were awesome with their intensity and Christ based lyrics. Much head banging was done during their set and encore. The final band of the night was Demon Hunter. We had seen them 2 years ago at Cornerstone California, but it was cool to see them in a smaller venue. Surprisingly there were only about 100 people so it was like having a private show. We enjoyed their set and two encores before heading home for the night.

Sunday was spent recovering from the concert after applying icy hot to sore neck muscles. Renee began assembling Jesse’s schoolwork for the week after we went to the Barnes & Noble for some books and a stop at In-N-Out for lunch. Today, Jesse starts his final year of homeschooling. He is a junior and wants to do his senior year at the private school he attended as a freshman. Renee has worked with him since 1st grade with exception of 7th & 9th grade when he attended the school I was teaching at and the private school. He needs to take his written driver’s test to get his permit in the next few weeks so he can begin his behind-the-wheel time . Not much longer left and he will be off living life on his own. Don’t mention this to Renee as she gets a little weepy of the thought of her little boy being all grown up. As for me, I envisioned him as a grown man the day I brought him home from the hospital.

Comic-Con and other July happenings

Looking out across the Comic-Con Expo Floor
Looking out across the Comic-Con Expo Floor

July has been pretty busy around our place. After Jesse returned from camp I spent the week transfering everything over at work to me as the sole employee left. The previous system administrator left on the 10th and decided to upgrade the servers before leaving. This borke all of the websites and I ended up working all weekend from home to resolve the problem with some company guys on the East coast. In addition to that, Jesse’s computer was having issues that I thought were related to a corrupt OS. After reformatting his PC, it became clear the problem was actually a faulty vidoe card. That Sunday I loaded up and went to San Diego for the week long ESRI User Conference(GIS software). On my return, Jesse and I aprticipated in the Worldwide Photowalk by attending the one in Barstow. We hadd fun while we backed in the Mojave sun.

After two days of work, we were off to Comic-Con in San Diego. We stayed at my best friend Jim’s palce in Santee and rode the trolley back and forth the convention center. It started on Wednesdasy night with picking up our 4 day passes and then cruising the extremely crowded expo floor. We managed to get a little swag, but more importantly we got the giant Warner Brothers ccombo swag/poster bags that we would use the rest of the Con to lug swag back to Jim’s.

The first full day of Comic-Con, we arrived a little after 12 and got in line for Ballroom 20 where Burn Notice and Psych were going to have their panels. The line was extremely long and wound around outside before finally going back inside. I didn’t think we were going to get in, but we made it in. The Burn Notice panel was hilarious as Bruce Campbell stole the show. He was hilarious and cracked jokes throughout the “BRUUUUCE” chants. He suggested they combine his current show and the Evil Dead series to have a movie called “Dead Notice.” I still don’t know why Burn Notice had a panel, but Bruce Campbell was hilarious. Renee did score a bright yellow Burn Notice shirt as swag.

Next up was the Psych panel, It was funny as well, but seemed mare scripted than the spontaneous quips by Bruce Campbell. The full cast was present as well unlike Burn Notice that only had Bruce Campbell and some lesser characters. I don’t know why Psych had a panel there either, but they had the best swag. We each score a T-Shirt, comic-book, and a Magic Psychic Ball. It’s a green Magic 8 ball with phrases like: “Ask Gus”, “Maybe yes, maybe no”, or “Ask me later” to name a few. The line for the swag was another long one as some 4200 people stood in line to get their free stuff. Afterward, we did a little more on the expo floor before heading for the trolley and the one hour ride back to Santee.

Jesse, Thor and friends.
Jesse, Thor and friends.

Friday was costume day for Jesse. He spent the previous night finishing up his Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine costume and had it on as we rode the trolley. Before we had even crossed the street after getting off, someone recognized what he was and commented on it. We did the expo floor and Jesse posed for many photographs whiel Renee stood in line to get some Gatchaman swag. She was a big Battle of the Planets fan as a kid so she gladly accepted a hat and watch. After that, we went to the Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi panel to hear from all of the authors of the novels. We then went to the Del Rey booth to get autographed posters and novels by the authors(6 in total as they did two posters and 2 novels per person). We found a Subway in the Gaslamp, Jesse took off his costume, and we sat on the sidewalk to eat as all the tables were taken. While eating, one of the stars of the CBS show Criminal Minds passed by us.

Saturday we got up early in hopes of getting in line for Ballroom 20 to see the Chuck panel. Jesse wore his costume again and the line was even longer than the previous time we tried to get into that room. We eventually were moving and inside the building. Jesse was interviewed by IFC News as we made our way in just as the panel was getting started. We sat down just before “Jeffster” came out to rakc “Fat Bottom Girls” as the crowd went wild. The stars of the show were all present and talked about the upcoming season of Chuck and how the fans has saved the show from cancellation. We left the panel and made a quick trip to the Hilton Bayfront Indigo room to get a spot for the Heroes panel some 3 hrs later. Last year, the line wound completely around the convention center and we wanted to get in early. As we walked in the Indigo Ballroom, we saw none other than Stan Lee siitng on the Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 panel. That was pretty cool to see the guy reponsible for Spiderman, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, etc. We then sat through panels for the TV shows Sanctuary and Glee(why a singing & dancing show is at Comic-Con is a puzzler to me). The heroes panel began as the room went wild for each of the stars especially Zachary Quinto aka Sylar and Spock from the new Star Trek movie. One of the cooler cast memebers introduced for the new season was Ray Park. He is also known for being Darth Maul, Toad in X-Men and Snake Eyes in the new GI Joe movie. We grabbed a bite to eat at Nicky Rottens in the Gaslamp and then hopped the trolley back to Jim’s pad.

Sunday we were up early again and off to catch the Dr. Who panel. Unfortunatley, they moved rooms and we didn’t notice until we arrived at the wrong room. We rushed back to Ballroom 20 expecting another long line and barely made it into the room before they closed the door. It was a funny panel as the current Dr. Whoo discussed his leaving the show and this years finale. We made one final trip trhough the show floor and saw stars like Lou Ferrigno, Adam West and Margot Kidder all signing autographs at various booths. We returned to Jim’s to pack up and head for home. We arrive home around 6:30 pm exhausted and unloaded the bags of swag scored into the house. That was followed by trips to the grocery store and to the mechanics to pick up Jesse’s truck. Needless to say, Monday was a LONG day as I was the only one at work and I was worn out from Comic-Con. It was a great time, but I think if we go in the futre it will be for only 2 days and not the full 4 1/2.

Comic-Con 4 Day Passes are sold out!

If you are planning to attend the Comic-Con International in San Diego on July 23-26, you will have to get individual day passes. The 4 day passes sold out since yesterday. We checked the site on Monday and they were at 80%, yesterday afternoon they were at 96% and today they are at 100% sold out. Fortunately we purchased our passes already so we are all set. We went last year for a day and had an interesting time. It is something worth checking out at least once in your life. Jesse enjoyed it so much, we got 4 day passes for this years. He even wants to dress up for it. Renee and I will go, but no dressing up. You get to see all the new movies coming out as well as TV shows and video games. We were going to stand in line for the Heroes session, but the line wrapped all the way around the convention center and all the way to Seaport Village. I refuse to camp out to see things. I will stand in line, but not for hours. We came home with all kinds of schwag – t-shirts, posters, stickers, etc. for shows and movies like Heroes, Lost, GI Joe, Star Trek, Star Wars and more.

Reflecting on years past.

A new year is always a great time to look forward and think on years past. In 1969, I was the baby of the family until October when my younger brother came on the scene. In 1979, I was in middle school and trying my best to be cool. In 1989, I was in the last year in the Army and engaged to Renee. In 1999, I had just finished with my degree at Oral Roberts and working at Walmart doing overnight stocking while working part-time as a web designer. That brings us to 2009 and it is amazing how I am back working in Barstow, a town I desperately wanted to escape as a teenager. I have been married to Renee 19 years next month. Twenty years after leaving the Army, I work as a contractor overseeing environmental websites for them. I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring, but I know in whom I trust. Thanks Lord for an amazing adventure filled with friends, family, a variety of locations, and your everlasting, unconditional love.

Bye-bye 2007, hello 2008

Well, a year has come and gone since I started this blog. Is anybody actually reading it? i spent New Year’s Day watching the Rose Parade and then the Rose Bowl. I tried to watch the Sugar Bowl, but it was such a blowout that I ended up flipping channels. Nothing really newsworthy, just wanted to start of 2008 the same way I started 2007, with a blog entry.