Los Angeles Urban Project team with their summer hosts. (Left to right: Chim, Kim, Fay, Michael, Sami, Jeffrey, and Emaly)
We are pleased to share this testimony by Sami Case. Sami served as an intern with the Los Angeles Urban Project (LAUP) at the Family Center. She graduated from CSULB last May (BA, Film) and has been attending FOL for the last year.
Initially, I was kind of bummed at being placed in Long Beach. My apartment is only 20 minutes away and I wouldnâ€™t get that Los Angeles summer that I had been dreaming about since first hearing I got into the program. I knew my friends were just down the road, but I only saw them every Sunday at church. Of all the LAUP teams, we had the farthest commute up to Lincoln Heights every week for large group meetings.
It was hard to be in Long Beach, but then we had dinner with Franky and Wilson. Franky told us his testimony, about how ten years ago he helped launch the Family Centerâ€™s programs with his LAUP team. He told us about the promises he heard from God, and how even today they are still being answered and fulfilled.
Suddenly, the shiny thought of being in L.A. dulled. I started to see how lucky I was to be at FOL. We were welcomed in with such open arms from the entire community, from being introduced at church, to living with Fay and Chim Mandalia; we got to see that the people at FOL are intentional. And a lot of that is due to having such a dedicated and intentional leader to create that kind of atmosphere.
We walked around and passed out snacks to people at Silverado Park one Saturday, and met people who have known Pastor John for years because he plays tennis at the park. The presence of the people of FOL was so evident in and around the community, and we felt that so strongly after only one week of working with the church.
I began to see how God really was intentional, even placing us with the right grade levels at tutoring. I could sense that I was the only one on the team who could work with the third graders: a rowdy bunch. They were perfect because I could discipline them, but also have fun with them. God deepened my compassion during reading intervention as I worked with kids with educational challenges. I learned to have faith that God would work through me.
Throughout our trip, we were blessed to have quite a few dinners with members and families of FOL, hearing from them about the history of the church and their own involvement, and how much it has grown in its first ten years.
FOL, I learned, is a very special place. Cross-generational, cross-cultural, cross-gender, it is truly one of a kind.
I am so excited to continue my involvement with this church, to continue building relationships with the people I met during LAUP, and become, hopefully, a friendly face myself for new and old returners.