Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

JC Penney

Saturday night went from being classy to crazy in only a few minutes.

At the checkout counter in JC Penney’s, I waited with anticipation.

Brittany and I had just completed a shopping spree.  For the first time in my life I didn’t look at the prices because it didn’t matter.  I didn’t care and Brittany didn’t care. We picked outfits out for each other.

For Brittany, I selected a red South Pole jacket covered with diamonds,  hot pink skinny jeans, and because Brittany likes accessories, an orange scarf, feather earrings, a feather necklace, and a feather hair band. I feel like the feathers really made the outfit.

Brittany wasn’t as kind when she selected my attire for the evening. She picked out a pair of blue patterned pajama pants, a salmon colored dress shirt, a penguin tie, a scarf, and a Russian styled winter hat. In my opinion the pants really complement the rest of my garments. 

After checking out, we went straight to the restroom to put our new garb on! Reemerging from the restroom, I looked like a mismatched bum and Brittany looked like an exotic bird. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be an exotic bird.

From there we made our way to the photo booth. A couple walks by us, the girl takes a second glance.  It feels like everyone is looking at us.

Did I mention that the tags are still on our clothes?

In the photo booth, it feels safe behind the curtains.  The machine doesn’t accept our ten dollar bill; we play paper-rock- scissors to determine who must break it. Brittany loses.

Brittany goes to five different stores, each one denies her. One clerk looked her up and down, in the worst possible way. Brittany concludes that it’s because she looks like a psychopath and returns to the photo booth defeated.

To break the ten dollar bill, we head to the food court to buy a soda.

The fear of being suspected as a shoplifter is over whelming. 

With the cash in hand, we get our picture taken. We change back into our original clothes and returned everything to JC Penney.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shades of Grey

I could still betray God, but not today. 

Things used to be much more black and white and honestly, I would prefer to subscribe to that kind of religion. My entire life, I have been taught that Jesus is the answer. I still believe it, but  as I get older, I see that life is complex; the solutions aren’t always simple or easy. I have at times doubted the authority of the Bible and I have even evaluated the idea that there might not be a God. 

Doubt has flood my mind at times but I am reassured that there is a loving Creator.   There is good and bad in life. Our sense of justice confirms this Great Controversy. We have the ability to love and to create, attributes of the one that created us. Life is simply too intricate for us to have evolved. Something never comes from nothing. We live in a created world and this necessitates a creator.  Every car has a manufacturer, every book has an author, every house has a builder, and every loaf of bread has a baker.   Everything that is created has a purpose. Cars are for transportation, books are for communication, homes are for shelter, and bread is for eating.   You are much more valuable and complex than any of these things. 

I believe in the Bible because it confirms what I can observe apart from religion. The Bible tells the story of a fallen World and shares a plan for its redemption -which is so beautiful to me. There is hope in its pages. When I read the Bible, it influences me, like no other book I have ever read.  I still have lots of questions. Some things might be cultural? Interruption can be confusing.  Some passages might have been intended for past or future ages of the Church? And just because the Bible makes a promise, does it make it good for all times and people?  I don’t know? I think that many of my religious activities might be practiced more out of tradition then out of Biblical principal and I am OK with that. Traditions are good but we need to be clear that they are traditions and not our salvation. 

Shades of grey overwhelm me. Simple faith requires that we accept truths as they become clear to us. If I want to know God, I should spend time with Him, He will impress upon my heart what I need to know for that time.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Retreat to Australia

This week I moved. I hate moving but sometimes it is necessary. My new housing arrangement is most certainly more affordable.  

I feel like my life is a game of Risk.  Right now, I am retreating to Australia. Usually Australia is a good place to build up your armies, while your enemies kill each other.

I need that right now, I still have that house in Syracuse. I don’t see an end in sight. I might have it for a while and I feel like I need to be prepared to weather whatever finical storm this house could bring.

“If the iron dice must roll, may God help us.”

German Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, 1914

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wish List

This year for Christmas, I have a few request for the People's City Mission:

1. I would like it if my employer would provide the staff with batons and tasers.  I really do feel like my words would be taken much more seriously and treated with much more authority, if I had these tools at my disposal.

2. A drunk tank would be awesome.

3. The Mission would be a lot more fun, if we had a ball pit. The majority of our guests missed out in life because they were born into a pre-ball pit society.

Honestly, the batons and tasers are probably unreasonable and a bit too violent. The drunk tank is a good idea but probably not going to happen. And the ball pit, might enable the men to never want to leave, so um, maybe a bad investment?

But this holiday season, I find some resolution in knowing that across the Atlantic, David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, understands. He summarizes the situation at the Mission best.

"Irresponsibility. Selfishness. Behaving as if your choices have no consequences. Children without fathers. Schools without discipline. Reward without effort.Crime without punishment. Rights without responsibilities. Communities without control. Some of the worst aspects of human nature tolerated, indulged – sometimes even incentivised – by a state and its agencies that in parts have become literally de-moralised.

So do we have the determination to confront all this and turn it around? I have the very strong sense that the responsible majority of people in this country not only have that determination; they are crying out for their government to act upon it. And I can assure you, I will not be found wanting."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday At The Mission

A guest told Santiago that he had semen on his hand and then attempted to rub it in his face. Luckily, Santiago outmaneuvered him.

A kind word was exchanged. A client confessed that he didn’t like me at first. But went on to assure me that he didn’t feel that way anymore.  He expressed gratitude towards me that I had never experienced before.  This is very rare at the Mission.

A man is having a seizure on the floor. I call 911.

Later, I take a phone message. “This is Master Trainer Tray, tell Max, I tested positive for HIV. He should get tested too.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bobby Slam

I lock Bobby in the airlock. My co-worker, Josh opens the door, only wide enough to inform Bobby that he isn’t welcomed at the Mission.  This man is too intoxicated and is a threat to other guests.  Bobby pushes his way through the doorway. He gets up in Josh’s face and starts pointing at him. He yells profanities. We do a fake police call, in hopes that it will scare him off.  It doesn’t work. He pushes his way past Josh and enters the Agape Center. He then starts pounding on the office door, thankfully Josh and I are safely behind the door.  I call the police for real this time. Bobby makes his way to the glass window in the office. I wish he would have just said what he had to say but instead he sprayed it all over the window. Unsatisfied, he walks out the door and sits down on a chair. 

Dinner starts at this time. Josh goes into the cafeteria to supervise. Bobby comes back, another guest had opened the door for him, to my dismay. I stop him outside the office. He gets in my face; I keep stepping back, while still trying to hold my ground. He covers my glasses with speckles of spit. He tells me he wants to use the restroom. I tell him no! He can go somewhere else.  He then unzips his pants while telling me he is going to pee on me. I tell him that is a very very bad idea! It must have made sense to him because he zipped his pants back up. Wanting to make right what he had almost just done, he puts his hand out, wanting to shake mine. I fall for it and shake his hand only he doesn’t let go. The accountant, Jeff catches this on the camera in his office. Jeff breaks it up. He asked me if I need anything? I say yes, the police!

The police finally arrive. They don’t arrest him. They ask him if he wants to go to detox , he doesn’t so they cant make him. They escort him off the property and that is it. Tell me, if Bobby had come into my own personal home and done the same act, would the police have responded the same way?  I would hope they would have slammed this fool flat on his face and arrested him. But I guess since it is the People’s City Mission it doesn’t matter? 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

There is beauty in life and love is a miracle.

 Starbucks-San Luis Obispo
Rheu-Iowa State Fair
Dance Party-Bobbys Jungle 
Lance getting slapped in the face
I don’t normally drink Coke but I drink it when I am with Lance Mishleau. I typically hate visiting tourist traps but when I am with Rheu Daniel, I don’t mind because that is what he likes. Jameson Hilliard likes rap music so that is what we listen to together. Emily Wilkens likes to drink coffee and while I have often held strong convictions about this topic, I enjoy drinking it with her. In the company of Matt Turk and Chris Mateo, I often find myself in a dance party. When I am with my sister Allison, we eat at Olive Garden. (We are champions when it comes to the unlimited soup and salad). Sadie Baby likes to go shopping so that is what we do together. When I am with Phillip Stokes, we shoot guns because Phil is a true American. And when I am in the deep South with Amanda Jehle , we talk about religion and intellectual things. There is beauty in life and love is a miracle.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Its Not My Fault

I understand. This morning, I missed my flight in Omaha by ten minutes. To my dismay, I had to pay $75 to fly stand-by. To make matters worse, I had to watch my original flight take off without me on board.

This week, I also had a dispute with my bank that resulted in a $30 over draft fee.

I hate paying for fines.

There are rules in society, if you don’t play by them, the Man will stick it to you.

I didn’t understand. At the Mission, guests will continue to break the same rules over and over again. They might get arrest or kicked out, but they never learn. They keep doing it regardless of the negative reinforcement. This didn’t make any sense to me?

I want to blame my bank for the over daft fee. I want to believe that United Airlines is unreasonable but in reality I am to blame. I made the choice to eat breakfast before going to the airport, which in the end made me miss my flight. I didn’t keep close enough track of my finances. I didn’t realize that a transaction hadn’t cleared. I over extended my bank account. I alone am to blame for these fines.

I kicked a guy out of the Mission this week for drinking on property. He blamed me, but really it was his fault. I didn’t give him the beer.

Many of the men at the mission blame the staff, the police, or other guests for their problems. As long as they believe they are not to blame, I think they will continue to repeat the same mistakes. To do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result is insanity. It is crazy and it isn’t just the men at the Mission. 

Hello, California. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Words of Churchill

You ask, What is our policy? I will say; “It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.” You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival. 

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Montreal: Je Me Souviens

North by Northeast

My friend Jameson is moving to Boston. He asked me if I would like to go with him. I said yes!

Night one was spend in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with James parents. Cedar Rapids is famous for having five seasons, the fifth season of course being fun! 

Day two was spend with Curtis, his wife Ellen, and Kaylea in Toledo, Ohio. If Toledo had a fifth season it would be crime. Toledo is infamous for being the third largest city for sex trafficking and slavery in the United States.

The third evening was spend in Toronto, Ontario stuck in traffic! While listening to the radio I learned that “some people have a sweet tooth but everyone has a meat tooth.”  I also learned that ten percent of Canadians smoke pot. The signs in Ontario are English but they make no sense, i.e. “ the collector is open ahead.”  What does that mean? Am I on a toll road?

This morning we arrived in Montreal, Quebec.

Canada depending on it relationship with the United States is either [ed. Note:  Dylan had to shower for church and the following was written by James] invaluable or worthless.  Their women are beautiful and their food is delicious.  But Toronto’s traffic jams inspire one to take up bicycling.   Their road signs, printed in French, are impossible to understand—particularly for the two of us, who speak no French.  Hmm…maybe that was the problem.

Upon arriving at Brittany’s apartment at 1:45 AM, we felt certain we’d be shanked on the sidewalk and left to die.  Random people wandered through the streets and alleys.  Trash littered the parking spaces.  Thankfully, Brittany quickly let us in and showed us where to sleep.  Her apartment is fantastic!  Very clean and comfortable.  We were pleasantly surprised to sleep in a 100% cockroach-free environment.  Thank you, Brittany (and Tammy and Murielle) for your hospitality!

It goes to show, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Can’t wait to explore the city now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life & Death

Life and death are knotted together. You cannot have death without first having life.

Last Thursday, my little sister Allison gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Tessa. Holding her in the hospital brought excitement to my soul that I had never felt before. I have held plenty of babies before but this one was different because it is my sisters.  I can only begin to imagine the enthusiasm that Allison and Azuri have.

When they checked out of the hospital it felt kind of like Christmas to me. One year, I got an electric train set from my grandparents. I was thrilled! I remember my dad giving me instruction on how to operate my new trains before playing with them. It was kind of like that. The nurse educated Al on how to care for a new born. I think Allison knew most everything the nurse told her. But after that we got to take Tessa home for Sabbath lunch! This was a beautiful celebration of life.

Today was nothing like Sabbath. Today one of guys at the mission was murdered. He was stabbed to death.  Some of his friends from the Mission witnessed it.  Thankfully this didn’t happen at the Mission.  

One of his friends came in crying with the news, covered in blood. There were pictures of the paramedics taking him out of the house posted on the Internet and live footage broadcasted on TV from the crime scene.

Just the day before, I helped this man; Pete cut the lock off his locker because he had lost his key. I remember talking to him. I had worked with Pete before. That day Pete turned in his last chore ticket.  He was only 29 years old; he had no idea that tomorrow he would die. Scarier still, the perpetrator had stayed at the mission before. This is only the fourth homicide to happen in Lincoln this year. 

“Lately death and life get so confusing
I can’t tell the difference here tonight”

Jon Foreman 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Badlands & Not So Badlands

"This broken country has been called always, by Indians, French voyagers, and American trappers alike, the Bad Lands." - Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

People's City Mission

I sit here, weary and drained, wondering if I even have the energy to write. Today was exhausting, day two of three 12-hour shifts.  Ad hominem arguments consumed the day.  The assortment of claims included me being a motherfucker, that I wasn’t a Christian, and that I was a little bitch.

Some men at the mission only have respect left to give, while others sadly never learned how to give respect at all. 

 Shattered homes, shattered careers, shattered dreams, and shattered lives are the central stories for the men that live at the Peoples City Mission.  For some men, a lifetime’s possessions have been abandoned. While other men have never even aspired far enough in life to have had the opportunity to abandoned their possessions.  Some men have failed tremendously at being fathers and the only thing they shall give their children is sorrow and insecurity, that will haut them for the rest of their lives.   Other men have been poor lovers and have ruined marriages.  They have been abusive both verbally and physical with women. These men have been reckless in their pursuits.

Many of these men have done nothing honorable with their lives and for that I am sometimes tempted to despise them. 

All of these men have mothers. Some mothers will call the mission looking for their sons. Other mothers don’t have to go far to see their sons because they are only divided by a wall that separates the women’s and family side from the men’s shelter.  A few mothers send their sons money. One mother brought her son McDonalds.  Sadly many of the mothers have given up on their sons and wish to have nothing to do with their lives.

Despair has took root and flourished in these men’s lives and rightfully so. I am overwhelmed by their dysfunction and inability to stay sober, get a job, be responsible, and respect others. And I am equally terrified by their determinations to roll cigarettes all day, watch TV, abuse alcohol, and use violence.     

I can’t fix these men! I can only attempt to express to them respect and dignity, which they deserve, contrary to what the world may say. They too are sons of God and they too can be citizens of Heaven if they choose. God is able to give them a new ideal and a new optimum, when they have failed, just as he is able to do the exact same thing for us.

Marvelous expressions of resilience, creativity, and new idealism are possible among these men who have seen their old world destroyed and are now being forced to imagine a new one. And there are men like this too at the mission! Men who are determined to pay their child support and be involved in their children’s lives.  Men who are resolute to make right their lives with God and with the people they have hurt. Men who are fearful to look at a beer should they turn back to alcoholism. These men, though few, are turning their lives around and they are becoming beautiful and responsible citizens.   

Friday, August 26, 2011

Come Find Me

You may not know me, but I know everything about you-Psalms 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up-Psalms 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways-Psalms 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered-Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image-Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being-Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring-Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived-Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation-Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book.-Psalms 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live.-Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made-Psalms 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb-Psalms 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born-Psalms 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. -John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love- 1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you- 1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child and I am your Father- 1 John 3:1

I offer you more then your earthly father ever could-Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect Father-Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand- James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs- Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope-Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love- Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts towards you are countless as the sands on the seashore- Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing- Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you- Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession- Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul- Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things- Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me- Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart- Psalms 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires- Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine- Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager- 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you –Psalms 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart- Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away ever tear from your eyes –Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take all the pain you have suffered on this earth- Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus- John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed- John 17:26

He is t the exact representation of my being- Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you- Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins-2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you- 1 John 4:10

I gave up everything that I loved the I might gain your love –Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me- 1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again- Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen- Luke 15:7

I have always been Father, and will always be Father- Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is- will you be my child? – John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you-Luke 15:11-32

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011


TIME IS RAPIDLY PASSING INTO ETERNITY. Let us not keep back from God that which is His own. Let us not refuse Him that which, though it cannot be given with merit, cannot be denied without ruin. HE ASK FOR A WHOLE HEART; GIVE IT TO HIM; IT IS HIS; BOTH BY CREATION AND BY REDEMPTION. HE ASK FOR YOUR INTELLECT; GIVE IT TO HIM; IT IS HIS. HE ASK FOR YOUR MONEY; GIVE IT TO HIM; IT IS HIS....He asked us to be absolutely and completely for Him in this world as He is for us in the presence of God.

-Acts of the Apostles, pg. 566

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thinking, Analyzing, & Worrying

I am trying to make things happen and in the process I am worrying a lot. Sleeplessness invades my nights, I toss and I a turn, playing every scenario over in my head. I am worried about money. I am worried that I will not find a job. I worry that I am not good enough. I worry about the house. I think about the paint on the house. I think about the floors in the house. I think about who will buy the house. I think about the windows in the house. I think a lot about the house! I think a lot about a host of things, whom will I marry? Is my car going to make it another year? I just want to stop thinking!

I try to stop thinking, so I talk to God. But talking to God doesn’t stop my thinking.

Echoes of angels beckon me, rest it is the Sabbath. And then I realize, I ONLY HAVE ONE RESPONSIBILITY AND THAT IS TO KNOW GOD, NOTHING COULD MATTER MORE! All of the things I worry about, are things I want to do for God. It is not my responsibly to make any of these things happen. I just have to surrender. Sometimes I get too consumed in what I want to offer God, that I forget to just spend time with Him.

“To obey God, we must love Him, and to know Him, we must spend time with Him, at His feet learning who He really is.

The better we know God, the more we will love Him, the more we love Him, the better we will serve Him. Genuine service for God can only spring from a genuine knowledge of Him.” –Doug Batchelor

Monday, April 11, 2011

Progress & Surprise

The past feels safe, while the future always tends to entertain uncertainty. I feel it, right now! I feel insecure and unsure about my immediate future. I wonder will I secede at flipping and selling another house? Will I find a job? Will I have enough money? How will I move from this moment to the next? I close my eyes, trying to recreate and cling to moments in my mind when I felt sureness and confidence. I think about Prague, Florida Hospital, and academy. I think about summer camp and colporteuring. And in this moment, I realize that none of these experiences were secure or sure at the time, they are only safe now because I have lived them. We have nothing to fear for the future, except, as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history. “ Life Sketches, 196

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Out of the noise generated by a multitude of travelers waiting about the vast waiting room of the Sacramento Train Station comes a announcement echoing over the public address system: “May I have your attention…please…Amtrak California Zephyr…train 6…scheduled to depart at 11:09 A.M. for Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Chicago and intermediate points…is ready for boarding on track 2!”

I am fond of traveling by train. Trains have alluring names like: Broadway Limited, Coast Starlight, and Empire Builder. There is a certain romance to it that can’t be found in flying, especially with today’s pesky TSA agents and airlines every scheming plans to charge for basic services.

As I say good-bye to Lance, I think to myself, he most definitely is my worst best friend ever! But he is also my best friend. It is strange how a person can fill both of those parts in my heart, at the same time. Boarding the train, I also realize, I am wearing the same outfit I wore the day Emily and I left Lincoln, ironic huh?