I am currently sitting at LAX and I have to say this airport is a hellhole. However, despite these trials at LAX it has been a good week. It was very interesting to travel to LA and see the different organizations such as Homeboy, the Union Mission, and St. Margaret’s. At Homeboy we toured the facilities and heard the stories of a few gang members who had come to Homeboy to get help. In addition to touring Homeboy’s main facilities, we also went to their silk screening facility where we acquired Homeboy t-shirts. While at the silk screening facility we heard the stories of two former gang members Omar and Anthony. One of the main points in Anthony’s story was how he was always forced to work with a rival gang member in Homeboy. Anthony eventually learned that despite being from different gangs they were both still just people and had a lot in common. We met a lot of great people on our trip and had a fun time while being able to help others.

Sam Landry

P.S. Macs suck! Go Windows/Go Linux

Fr. Greg Boyle

Four days after our tour of Homeboy Industries and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the testimonies we received from Marcos and Omar. I can’t begin to recount them here because I could never do them justice, but I can say that I was very touched by the way both of them spoke to us, with gentle countenance despite their harsh realities and deep scars, in real and humble ways and ultimately conveying a message of hope and healing.

One thing that they both shared in their testimonies that completely blew me away was Marcos and Omar’s stories about the founder of Homeboy Industries, a Jesuit who goes by Father Greg. Marcos explained to us that, years before, Father Greg had sought out gang members in the community asking what it would take in order for them to escape their deprecating lifestyles. What he heard from a solid majority of people he talked to was that they were in need of stable jobs in order to become independent and sustain healthier lifestyles. Since gang members usually have to get tattoos all across their bodies, getting a job is difficult for them; employers tend to think they’re intimidating and not fit for the workplace. If I were Father Greg, I would have been extremely discouraged about the whole situation—faced with an entire community of reluctant employers, I would’ve been so lost as to where to start, and I also undoubtedly would’ve considered giving up, feeling small and powerless in the face of everything.

Though I’m sure Father Greg experienced the kind of doubt I would’ve experienced, he thankfully had the strength of character to press on despite it and animate his vision. Father Greg determinedly resolved to get gang members jobs. Since no local employers would take gang members in, Father Greg created small businesses for them and eventually started Homeboy in order to rehabilitate many of them from their addictions and lead them out of their personal struggles, through love, by classes and counseling and training. Marcos and Omar told us that he would make rival gang members work together to force them to develop relationships with each other. I think that takes some serious character; I definitely wouldn’t want any kind of backlash from anyone who has anything to do with gangs. But they’re just people, and Father Greg knew to see them that way. Clearly, he wasn’t very concerned about repercussions for him, and would’ve given anything of himself in order to bring truth and goodness to these strangers’ lives—an awesome illustration of God’s real love in practice.

But before beginning all that, he clearly established what he was all about by relentlessly and courageously pursuing broken individuals in little but powerful ways. Marcos and Omar both mentioned in their stories that Father Greg would invite them out to lunch individually and often, apparently an attempt to get them away from their gang lifestyles as much as possible, according to Marcos. I can only imagine what kind of ridiculous psychological warfare he must’ve experienced as a result, how many sleepless nights he must’ve experienced after the first encounter—wondering how God could possibly reach others through him, a mere man; whether he was actually capable and equipped to complete the work set before him; whether love can actually save someone who is so deeply rooted in a broken lifestyle. Fearing failure. Experiencing rejection. Especially rejection of the deepest part of your being: your spiritual convictions, because they were likely not common among the people he worked with—in fact, he was probably scorned at first. That’s an insane undertaking, and an insane vision to try to pursue with undying faith. It must’ve sucked so much.

With that being said, I can totally imagine Father Greg being completely filled with joy despite everything, knowing that he was doing the work Jesus died for. And what’s more fulfilling than being able to watch as someone’s life is completely turned around as a result of an experience of true love? Father Greg is awesome and thinking about what he was able to accomplish through his sacrifices makes me really happy and excited for my future adventures.

Life with God is rad.


P.S. the other night when we were staying overnight on the roof of the Union Mission in Skid Row, a guy from some Christian student group came over and told us the last time his group was there, they got their faces eaten by the cu cu ra cha (cockroaches) and Moser assaulted (SALTED) him so bad about it later behind his back because cockroaches apparently don’t actually bite.


P.P.S. memes

Sunny Childers

Lots of Learning and Growing this Week!

July 2, 2016

This week was filled with lots of laughter, service, reflection, food and… cockroaches. But as we sit here in the LAX airport now, it came to a close way too fast. It feels like we were waking up at 3am to get on our plane to come down here yesterday. But let me tell you every second of this trip was worth it

Coming into this week I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t sure what we were going to be doing completely. To be honest I was a little nervous when Mr.Moser said something along the lines of “carry-on bag for one week with everything in it including sleeping bag and all” because holy cow I feel like I take my whole closet everywhere I go, but now I realize I don’t need much at all. Going into this week I had a completely different mindset than I do now, and this past week has made me open my eyes to many new things and realize a lot more that I never would have thought of before.  This week has allowed me to grow in my faith and friendships along with expand on my service opportunities.

With all of the activities and opportunities we got to do this past week from going to the beach, having a campfire, the boarder, Boarder Angles, Homeboy, St.Margarets, the Rescue Mission, sleeping on the roof and delivering sack lunches on Skid Row we got to hear stories and got to know those who we were serving was an eye opening experience. Just being able to hear them speak about situations they were in was really inspiring and being able to go to these places. Because it’s one thing hearing a story or telling a story but being able to hear the story first hand and actually be there and see the surroundings is another and nothing could compare to that.

As we walked down Skid Row with sack lunches to deliver to people on the streets of Skid Row, the amount of smiles and hearing “Thank you! God Bless” was so touching, knowing doing something so small to us yet so big to them that made their day made me

pic 16feel so good inside. Just like this whole week, it has been such a blessing being able to share this week with amazing people as we “made a mark” and leaving feeling like we did just that.

I don’t think I could pick one place to say I enjoyed the most because each one of them had a different impact on me in different ways. But if I had to pick just one, it would be Homeboy. Homeboy is a place where ex-gang members go to “get back on their feet”. This place allows members to work, take classes, and gives them the opportunity to get their tattoos removed. Our tour guide Marcos shared his story with us and it was so impactful and touching, the things he has gone through to be where he is today and to have wanted to turn his life around to a better place that he is still working on today is awesome.

Friendships have been made and some made stronger and I’m not just talking about with my fellow classmates I took this trip with, but we got to grow closer with staff and made connections to those we were serving as well. Throughout this week if we were singing a song to freaking out about cockroaches crawling in our bags there wasn’t ever a dull moment with this group, and I wouldn’t have wanted to take this trip and serve those in need with any other group. There are so many things I am going to be able to take away from this week that will help me in life and help me be who I am.

Ashton Stowell



Today we helped out at St. Margaret’s Center, an operating food bank and general mission for the homeless, the poor, and migrant families. We were divided up into two groups; one group did gardening work, and the other group, which I was a part of, tore out three storage rooms and restocked them. I don’t know the details of the gardening group, but i believe that they cleared out a bunch of invasive grass, weeds, and dead parts of some of the plants. As for my group, we began with a storage room under some stairs. We began by removing absolutely everything from storage and catagorizing it in the parking lot, and to our surprise, we found that some mice had had an easter party in the storage room. The floor was littered with easter eggs, each with a small hole chewed through big enough for a mouse to fit in. They were everywhere. They also seemed to have found the easter grass, which was piled in surprisingly copious piles littered all over the floor. We swept the mouse remains, easter supplies, and

wrappers out and into the garbage, and sorted through the boxes in the parking lot, and then neatly restocked the storage room so that you could reach all of the boxes easily. Then we had lunch at a small but amazing restaurant across the road, then returned to do the same thing with a huge storage room full of diapers and health supplies. The last room was a quick one full of toilet paper, for some reason. After that we were done with our service, this day being the least interesting, but while today did not have us meeting nearly as many of the people we were serving, it still helped the center to operate much better, knowing that they had double the storage space and had access to a bunch of what was once unreachable. This taught us that not all work is  inherently fun, but it has to be done, and every bit of sweat we put in, is a little bit of relief we get to give to someone in need, and thats a really nice feeling.


After dinner and reflection we were eating cake when the cockroaches attacked again. One of them assaulted the group, and by assaulted I mean walked about aimlessly. Jonathan immediately jumped to the rescue, stabbing at it with a chair leg, missing every time. Seeing that this was ineffective, he let out a feral scream of, “MMA STYLE” as he folded the chair and preceded to bang the ground flat until the roach was nothing but a splat of indiscernible fluid on the ground. Thanks Jonathan.



Union Rescue Mission

Tonight the team sleeps over the city, admiring the glistening lights that suggest Los Angeles can offer opportunity and accomplishment. However, down below there are lines of tents visible from the top of the Union Rescue Mission. These tents are what some call home.

I have always been fortunate. I have never been able to fit all of my belongings into a tent and call it home. I have a bedroom of my own that is bigger than their entire house, I have a kitchen, a bathroom, a dining room. I have everything that people look for in a decent, comfortable home with air conditioning for the hot Oregon summer and a heater for the rainy days that seem to occur more often than not. I’ve never been without these things, so I’ve never considered what it would be like to have a a sleeping bag for a bed and the ground beneath me each night I rest.

These people live this way every day, packing their tents and transferring to a new, similar location that comes with the same discomforts as the night before. Men, women, and children are among this community of homelessness that drenches Skid Row. Rather than make it more difficult to survive(take  Old Town in Portland for example, where people sleep wearing their shoes to make sure they aren’t stolen the next day), this community comes together to uplift each other and work to make their situation more suitable. Their ability to respect each other’s positions are what makes Skid Row a place with hope. Each person has the opportunity to invest their time into the Union Rescue Mission and see what their programs can do for them.

Union Rescue Mission consists of four programs. Drug/Alcohol abuse, Women and children(essentially family), Gateway people, and Residence. All programs have a certain duration of time, all of which are given to benefit them. For example, women and children are given 45 days in the program and if their issues have not been successfully resolved by the Union Rescue Mission, they are sent to a different facility that can better support their needs. Union Rescue Mission offers the homeless a chance to start anew and build themselves from the ground up, showing them immense levels of supports for their future adventures.

P.S. While staying in East LA at Salesian High School, we rest among the cockroaches. As we all lay in our sleeping bags, Ashton groans to the group that she is convinced there is a cockroaches on her foot. The groups laughs nervously, wondering if we too have cockroaches in our sleeping bags.

Sunny says, “It’s just more foot,”

– Madi Potter


I never imagined when I woke up that my entire perspective on a large group of people would be changed. Today started as a normal day, waking up wayyyy too early (7am-ish) and eating a pretty quality breakfast, which happened to be a breakfast burrito and some nutritious Lucky Charms, normal day so far. Today was the trip to Homeboy Industries. Going into it, I didn’t really know what to expect. My first impression made me kinda nervous actually. Walking into a place where there is a large congregation of ex-gang people was intimidating. My impression of gang members has been soured by the mass medias that reflect them in a dissatisfying light and I had never really gotten to know otherwise. I thought it was these people who out of pure choice and desire wanted to join gangs to be cool. I was completely wrong. These people had been through way more than I ever will go through. Marcos, one of the people in the 18 month program at Homeboy shared his story of a heroine addict father. He had not been taught how to fish, fix a car, or how to treat women by his father; rather he was taught how to survive prison life. He went into the gang to find something for himself and he did not like after a while. He came to Homeboy to change his life. Rather than being content in a gang, he wanted something more. He got a job through Homeboy and got his GED. This drastically changed my opinion of gang members. They are not all people who go into gangs thinking it would be fun, some have that as their only option. These people inspire me because they chose to come out of the gangs and make a better life for themselves.

The rehab process is not all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. The tattoo removal process hurts and takes a long time Marcos said. They burn the tattoo with a laser to disperse the ink so that it can’t be seen. The fact that these people want to change so bad that they would endure the pain to remove the tattoo,which happens to hold that them back from a job, is inspiring. Having tutoring classes daily and other classes about how to be a member of society could be a struggle, but they do it all the time. I put enough effort into school to pass, but not much more usually. The “homies”, as Father Greg calls them, put out more effort than I probably have in school just so they can break out of who they were previously and become who they have wanted to be. One solid example is a nice man named Omar. Omar joined the gang life at 14 and had his first kid at 16. He met Father G around that same time and got out quickly. Father G helped him to become who he wants to be. He got his GED, and became a successful Father. His kid is now 19 and graduated high school, he did not enter the gang life at all because of the support of Omar. Omar had a saying, he said “sometimes you have to taste the dirt before you can brush it off”. This statement has hung with me this entire day. This man, only 35, has many deep thoughts based on a serious situation. There are many situations I consider tough that I go through every day’ slow wi-fi, lack of Dutch Bros, school, etc., but this man had to deal with so much more. I’ve tasted the “first world dirt” and have found it tough to cope at times, so now is the time to brush off that dirt and focus more on helping other people.

Through this experience today I realized that my “struggles” aren’t even close to the level that they could be. Rather than complaining about my life, I should learn to open my eyes while driving downtown and see that hardships there. I need to realize more how great my life is and begin to help my fellow humans out. I need to realize how awesome I have it and I need to be more thankful.

Goodnight from LA,

Jonathan Fechtel


P.S. Ashton killed a cockroach *high five*, she’s also “letting it dry” overnight and then will clean up.

The Border

Oregon is a unique place, and while Portland’s motto is “keep Portland weird,” I think Eugene is one of the most interesting cities in Oregon; however, after today, Eugene feels like paradise.

Today we met with the Border Angels organization who introduced us to several immigrants that had suffered loss of limbs and worse trying to cross the border. After the talks, we traveled to a cemetery for the nameless, or otherwise, unclaimed men and women that have died trying to cross the border. There was a deep sadness present within the gates of the cemetery. Trying to imagine the pain and trauma that the families of these nameless men and women have had to endure is impossible. Not knowing whether a loved one is dead or alive must be a crushing weight upon the shoulders of those affected.

After our trip to the cemetery, we were enveloped in a blanket of heat as we arrived at the Mexican-American border. It was as hot as 116 degrees fahrenheit in some places. We all agreed that it would be impossible for any of us to endure the journey that thousands of people make every year. Men, and women try to provide a better life for their families and to do that they survive incredible heat, thirst and hunger.

I realize now that throughout the day that I used the phrase “I can’t imagine…,” repeatedly. Today has shown me that I am a very lucky person. Madi Potter and I were talking tonight about how we have taken what we have for granted. We have our family. We have a good education. We have food, water and shelter. All of these things seem like a guarantee. It’s easy to ignore the suffering of others when we are so detached from the problem. Today has been the first day of what will be many realizations and we are all anticipating what comes next.

— Maya Dotson