An idea on the horizon…

I have wanted to lobby for years…this potential prison closure is exactly the type of thing that I want to fight against in the future–the social injustices that so often people overlook…and last night, as I was talking to a friend, it occured to me that with his future law experience, and with my passion to get out and change things, we could make an incredible team, as we have very similar goals for our future careers…out of that discussion the idea to create our own non-profit organization arose…and for some reason, it is pulling at something within me, even though these dreams cannot come to fruition for years. The possibilities are endless, and we are exploring them already. Just wanted to mention this, as now i may have some motivation to focus on my academics.

Christian artist Ginny Owens was our guest in chapel today…she has been someone whose music has spoken to my soul for many years now. She has been blind since the age of 2, yet she plays the piano just like anyone who could see. She has a song titled “If You Want Me To,” and God led me to that song in the middle of my physical sufferings a few years ago….she ended her setlist with that song, as I had been praying that she would. I spoke with her afterwards, and thanked her for being such a willing servant of God, and I told her that her music has impacted me in many ways…She is amazing, and we are so privileged here at APU to have such incredible speakers and guests. If you want to watch any of our chapels, select sporting events, etc., you can see them here.

So yeah. I am so happy to have a project now, a project where I feel as if I can, and am, make a difference in the lives of these precious young men who had dinner with us last night…who responded so beautifully to the music we sang/played…young men who are so young, yet so old at the same time…I love having something to do!

Lesa’s Latest Plan of Action

Dear friends,

Tonight I sang at a Correctional Facility in Whittier, and I have decided to

join the fight at hand against the California Youth Authority (CYA). The CYA

is potentially closing this facility, a move which will be devastating to

hundreds of young men, as well as their friends and families…I have

attached the opposition to the closure’s arguments, and I hope that you will

read this and help me in my “lobbying.” This means a lot to me, which is surprising to me!

One reason that is not listed is very important: there is a major rivalry

between Northern/Southern California gangs, so by moving these boys up into

“enemy” territory, security can be a major issue.

Please email, call, or write the following representatives, especially

Governor Arnold, if you are convinced that this should not be closed. If

only you could have seen the pain in these boys eyes when asked how they

felt about this potential move…the thought of not seeing their families

for months at a time, because of the distance…anyway, please help make a

difference in the lives of these precious boys!

In Opposition to the Closure of Fred C. Nelles

“The state of California is considering closing the 95-acre, 112 year old

Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility on Whittier Boulevard… This

possibility has spurred a political ping pong match. On one side is the

CYA’s administration, which says its prison population is dwindling and that

closing the facility could save the CYA about $14 million per year. On the

other side is a group of legislators dedicated to keeping a state youth

prison in the Los Angeles area . In May, CYA officials submitted a plan to

state legislators calling for the closing of the Nelles facility in 2006.

But legislators told them to craft an alternative plan . CYA officials are

still hopeful their original plan will be approved by lawmakers.”

From article, State May Close Nelles, Whittier Daily News, A1, June 11,

2003, by Ben Baeder

Reason for Nelles to Remain Open

Nelles houses younger CYA wards (mostly ages 14 to 18). Older wards in the

CYA (ages 19 to 25) are placed at Chino, Camarillo and other northern (CYA)

facilities (but the Camarillo facility for boys is also proposed to be

closed in March 2004). The younger wards at Nelles would have to be

transferred to Paso Robles (200 miles from L.A. and more than 300 miles from

southern counties), or to Stockton (340 miles from L.A. and up to 500 miles

from southern counties). Such distances would create great hardships on

families of wards from southern California who would be housed in northern

facilities. The majority of the CYA population comes from southern

California. With so many wards not receiving family visits, individual

motivation to do well and rehabilitate would be hindered. The morale in the

CYA would be greatly affected by the large population of wards who do not

receive visits. The CYA environment would be more hard and difficult.

Safety and security could become more challenged.

There would no longer be a state youth correctional facility for minors in

southern California. The city of Whittier has provided such a facility for

112 years to southern California families. Every Saturday and Sunday family

members from all over southern California and beyond come to visit their

children who are incarcerated at Nelles. Some have spent their evenings in

local motels, while others have bought meals, gas, and shopped in local

stores. The visit to Whittier is a positive experience for both wards and

family members. To see the 95 acres of Nelles land only as a revenue

producing source is to miss the bigger and better picture. Whittier’s

graciousness and hospitality is known throughout southern and even all of

California.

The Fred C. Nelles program has been a positive influence in Los Angeles

County. B.O.O.T., a ward conducted intervention program impacts school,

police, and community youth organization and programs from all over the

area. Local L.A. television has featured Nelles on numerous newscasts

discouraging gangs and youth anti-social behavior. The award winning cadet

program has brought state recognition to Nelles and Whittier. The Fred C.

Nelles High School was recently accredited and is equipping youthful

offenders to realize the dream of a high school diploma or equivalent.

Volunteer opportunities provided by Nelles have enriched the lives of a

multitude of L.A. County citizens (Foster-grandparents, cultural arts, gang

intervention, and religious volunteer programs). Local volunteers commit

their personal time and talents to come to Nelles in order to encourage

wards and serve their community. Volunteers, with passion, heighten local

awareness to the gang and juvenile delinquency issues facing the greater

L.A. area. Los Angeles County is the biggest contributor to the CYA

population. A positive influence such as Nelles cannot be removed from our

county.

If you are a volunteer, concerned citizen, or a friend or family member of a

former or current ward at Nelles, we encourage you to write to one of the

legislators and others listed below to express your concerns.

Department of the California Youth Authority (CYA)

4241 Williamsbourgh Dr.

Sacramento, CA 95823

(916) 262-1473

You may also email your concern to the CYA website at: http://www.cya.ca.gov

See, “Questions About the Consolidation”

Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility

11850 E. Whittier Blvd.

Whittier, CA 90601

(562) 698-6781

Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger

State Capitol Building

Sacramento, CA 95814

Attention: Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger

(916) 445-2841 Fax (916) 445-2841

You may also email your concern to:

governor@governor.ca.gov

Budget Joint Sub-Committee Members

State Capitol

P.O. Box 942849

Sacramento, CA 94249-0056

Attention: Assembly Member Rudy Bermudez (56th) Dem

(916) 319-2056 Fax (916) 319-2156

Mr. Bermudez is the assemblyman for Whittier

District (562) 864-5600 Fax (562) 863-7466

assemblymember.bermudez@assembly.ca.gov

State Capitol

P.O. Box 942849

Sacramento, CA 94249-0070

Attention: Assembly Member Jenny Oropeza (55th) Dem

(916) 319-2055 Fax (916) 319-2155

assemblymember.oropeza@assembly.ca.gov

State Capitol

P.O. Box 942849

Sacramento, CA 94249-0009

Attention: Assembly Member Darrell Steinberg (9th) Dem

(916) 319-2009 Fax (916) 319-2109

District (916) 324-4676 Fax (916) 327-3338

assemblymember.steinberg@assembly.ca.gov

State Capitol

Room 4066

Sacramento, CA 95814

Attention: Senator Dick Ackerman (56th) Rep

(916) 445-4264 Fax (916) 445-9754

District (714) 573-1853 Fax (714) 573-1859

senator.ackerman@sen.ca.gov

State Capitol

Room 5050

Sacramento, CA 95814

Attention: Senator Dede Alpert (39th) Dem

(916) 445-3953 Fax (916) 327-2188

District (619) 645-3090 Fax (619) 645-3094

senator.alpert@sen.ca.gov

State Capitol

Room 5100

Sacramento, CA 95814

Attention: Senator Wesley Chesbro (2nd) Dem

(916) 445-3375 Fax (916) 323-6958

District (707) 445-6508 Fax (707) 445-6511

senator.chesbro@sen.ca.gov

(FROM: http://www.houseofgracechurch.com/nelles.htm)

An interesting evening…

Last night was definitely interesting on many levels. I went with a group of APU students to feed the homeless at a church early in the evening, something that is out of my comfort zone…when we got there, they told us that it would be about 30 minutes until they would be ready to serve dinner, so we could either socialize amongst ourselves or socialize with the homeless. A friend of mine pulled me in with her, and we sought out people to talk to. We ended up talking to this sweet couple, one of whom is almost 100% native american (his name is Four Winds). It was so interesting to talk to these individuals, while thinking about the university that I attend…the fact that I was going to Olive Garden after feeding them…you know? It was a very humbling experience…and I learned quite a bit. Four Winds and I talked about sports (I had a Penn State shirt on, which sparked the conversation), and both he and his wife were fascinated by my friend and I’s stories about what we were studying…they asked about our nationalities and kept commenting on how pretty we were and how lucky we were to go to this school…it was all so humbling! How can I complain about not having a car when these people have not even a house in which to sleep? Yeah…it was eye-opening. I am so glad that God inspired me to go.

After that, my former roommate, Sara, and I went to the Olive Garden, because it was our friend’s first night as a waiter, and we wanted to cheer him on. After waiting an hour to get into his section, we were seated (it was 10:15pm by this time!)…he offered us a sample of the house wine, after checking our IDs of course…and we decided to try it. Hey, it was free, it wasn’t that much, so I had my first alcohol as a legal adult. It was disgusting. I drank all that he gave me (which was one-third of a glass), but it was hard to get down. I think that I did it only because I can do it now, legally. But that was enough for me. No more alcohol for me!

Today…it was cloudy and rainy…so I didn’t do much. I tried to do some studying…which was unsuccessful!! But it was a good day overall.

So yeah–I just wanted to post about the homeless shelter and the wine πŸ™‚ More later!

Praise the Lord for Southern California

I NEVER, ever thought I would catch myself saying this, but I am actually thankful that I live in Southern California. After hearing every day how cold it is in other places, i.e. Illinois, I have realized that I am quite content to stay here with my 70 degree weather–for now! I still want to move to D.C., but I am very thankful that God has given me the opportunity to live here, and to enjoy the beautiful sunshine…and to wear flip-flops! πŸ™‚

Got mail from Mike today–that was so awesome! I love mail, especially when it comes from a dear friend.

Also, I thought that maybe I should mention that I have a CD that I recorded almost 2 years ago in Pennsylvania, with a band called “Brother John”; It is titled “I Will Not Forget You”, and it is a full length album of praise and worship songs. If you are interested, let me know! They are $10, including shipping. I think that they are good!

Alright…not much else to add. Tonight I am serving dinner at a soup kitchen, and I know that will be a great experience. Need to write papers/study this weekend…but I REALLY want to go to the beach…it has been far too long for this California girl!

Applied Learning

You know, I wouldn’t mind learning as much if it were all immediately applicable. As much as I love history, a good portion of the facts we digest are not applicable to our everyday lives, or we are unable to see the benefit of knowing these facts…well, this week I have already learned a great deal about how things came to be as they are now…and I LOVE that!

Example: In my Civil War and Reconstruction class today (with Dr. Lamkin who is absolutely the best!!), we were discussing the slave culture in the antebellum (pre-war) South. Dr. Lamkin is very much a professor who loves to have us learn in non-mundane ways, and today was no exception. We listened to spirituals, and also were each given a different spiritual to read and evaluate the text (they often used songs as code for escaping…fascinating!); he also played for us a folk tale about Brer Rabbit…it was so fun! Anyway, we discussed how each slave, on average, lost 11 family members throughout their lifetime, due to being sold, sickness, etc. So, because of that, the slaves would regard one another as family, and would call eachother uncle, aunt, brother, sister, etc. That was one of the ways they sustained themselves through this tumultuous time…well, it occured to me that in African-American churches, for example, everyone is “Brother” or “Sister”…and it all made sense! That is a part of their culture that has remained, and I thought that was so cool! I never understood where that came from, besides from being the family of God…but I love learning things like that! πŸ™‚

In my Medieval Europe class we have been talking about Rome, and about the early church and the persecution thereof. Today it occured to my group, after reading our document which was a letter from Pliny to the emperor, that the church today in America is incredibly comfortable, incredibly blessed and totally lucky…we have no idea what it is to be persecuted for our faith, which is sad…you never really know what something, or someone, means to you until it is taken from you…

Anyway…Mike thinks that he is going to swim in the Pacific Ocean when he is out here…I said that HE could, but I am not joining him. I have never, even in summer, swam in that ocean because it is so cold. When I was in Boston last summer, the Atlantic Ocean was warmer there than I have ever felt the Pacific. But, Mike, go for it! I’ll just get a tan while you freeze! πŸ™‚

Alright, nothing else really to post today…check out Mike’s blog (link on the left) as it has been even more interesting than usual this past week. πŸ™‚

Oh–roommate date next week…who are they going to set me up with?! Scary thought!! πŸ™‚

Lesa Close: Azusa Pacific University Coordinator for Bush/Cheney ’04

I am now the holder of an official position on the Bush/Cheney campaign! I accepted the position this afternoon, after much prayer, thought and deliberation…and though I am still apprehensive about some aspects, I know that this will be an experience I will never forget…and I am up to the challenge! I am still so honored to be asked to take on this position. I am now a “coordinator.” SWEET!

Today was alright…I found out a kinda disappointing fact today in my Medieval Europe class…we have been talking about the Roman Empire, and that inspired me to watch “Gladiator” last weekend. After watching the movie, which is fairly accurate historically as far as the culture of the times, and the events that occured after Marcus Aurelius’ death (isn’t that a marvelous name? Maybe I will keep that in mind for a son…LOL…JK!). I asked my prof today, though, how Marcus Aurelius died…because in the movie, his son, Commodus, kills him because Marcus was not going to name his son his successor…and that is fascinating to me…so I asked–and it is not the story that is regarded as true by most historians. Most say that he died of pnuemonia or something like that while he was up in the Germanic country fighting wars for many years…so, while that isn’t nearly as captivating as a son killing his father so that he can be in power, that is most likely the truth, so I will accept it. And morally it is a more preferrable situation, as well.

I am in the middle of writing my autobiography, for a class, and it is fairly tough–because we have to write in the third person. It is only tough because I am having to step back and look at my life in a completely different way…I am writing this paper with a political theme, beginning with a scene from the future, when I am inaugurated as Vice-President, with Zachary Ritter as President, in 2028…I am enjoying the assignment, for the most part, as it is fun to look back and see just how political my life has been from the time I was three years old…good times.

Alright, I suppose I should get to bed. Not much else happened today–except that I was unable to watch the State of the Union because I was at work. I did listen to part on the radio, and I have the entire transcript…but it just isn’t the same. Watching these important speeches is just as exciting as the Daytona 500 or the Superbowl to me…:) Yeah, I’m a nerd! πŸ™‚ Have a blessed day!

An interesting day…

Today was interesting, mostly good πŸ™‚ Spent the day with Steph and her family, and it was fun and relaxing…watched “A Few Good Men” and “Crimson Tide”, for the first time, which was great. I have actually been doing homework today, for the first time this weekend…a shocker, I know πŸ™‚

Trying to decide about the Bush Campaign position–which I want to do more than anything! πŸ™‚ But…there are a lot of things that must be considered before I just jump head-first into this job…please pray for me, as I have to make my decision soon…I have pretty much made up my mind, but still am not certain…

My professor for my Current Events class is the author of many books, and for this class he is having us read one of his own, a book called “Living Victims, Stolen Lives.” (By Brad Stetson) In this work, he talks to the parents of murdered children, and the chapters are interviews, verbatim, from his time with those parents. His introduction was so eye-opening, and so angering…he presented many statistics about murder, many of which I did not know. For instance–did you know that by the time you are in high school you have witnessed an average of 40,000 murders through media? 40,000!! I highly recommend this book, as it has raised my awareness level a great deal, and I am so angered at these murderers, most of whom are still roaming the streets…feeling probably no remorse for the pain that they have caused countless family and friends of these poor victims…anyway…

Plans for Spring Break are in the works, and I am totally excited! I wish that it were closer, and not three months away…but I will be plenty busy in those three months! πŸ™‚ I am so excited about seeing Chicago, a great lake, and getting two states…oh yeah, and about seeing Mike and Larry!! (Of course I want to see them the most!! :)) So yeah…gives me something to look forward to!

This week will be crazy…tons of classes…way too many…I do still have the option of dropping one by Wednesday…but I think I can handle them. πŸ™‚ This week will not be nearly the social time that this weekend turned out to be. Sigh…back to being an undergraduate college student…

“Never tolerate, because of sympathy for yourself or for others, any practice that is not in keeping with a Holy God. Holiness means absolute purity of your walk before God, the words coming from your mouth, and every thought in your mind…Holiness is not simply what God gives me, but what God has given me that is being exhibited in my life.” –Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, Sept. 1)

Great night!!

Wow–it was SO great to hang out with Aaron tonight! There is just something so amazing about ASP friendships…such a bond, such a depth to the relationships…and it was so wonderful to see him. I can’t say it enough–God has truly blessed me!

Anyway, APU beat Vanguard tonight, I think it was 74-42 or something like that…a pretty decent win. πŸ™‚

Goodnight!

Thoughts…

Well, today I had set aside as a study day…I was going to do all the reading for Tuesday…I was going to write my paper that is due on Thursday…but…God gave us such a beautiful day!! 72 degrees, sunny…so I…well, let’s just say that the apartment is clean, and my heart is filled with joy from talking to so many people today on the phone (unlimited weekends!!)…and still my books sit here, staring at me…oh well! My good friend Aaron from ASP is coming to see me tonight, and he is definitely more important than reading about Medieval Europe! πŸ™‚ Also, my roommate from my freshman and half of my sophomore year, Allison, is going to visit tonight while she is in town from Colorado…that takes precedence over studying (I know what Mike is going to say about my excuses!!)…

God has filled my life with so much joy, even through the suffering and trials He has allowed me to undergo in the past 5-6 years…but I have realized just how much I have to be thankful for! My hand has recovered about 85%, so I am able to use it–which is a total blessing…a year ago I could not move my hand, much less play piano or write…now I can do all these things and more…I have been blessed with absolutely unforgettable and amazing friends, such as Stephanie, Mike, Aaron, Jason, Dan, Nate, Larry, Alli, Katie (basically everyone from ASP!!), Sara, Leslie and Jessica…and these friends love me because of my uniqueness, not inspite of it. πŸ™‚ God has blessed me with this university, which I do love despite my problems returning and transitioning…It makes all the trails and hard times well worth it!

I have a dear friend who is really hurting right now…the pain does not seem to end, but only seems to grow stronger…I am so concerned for this friend of mine, as I feel that the pain may be leading into a type of depression…And it pains me so to know that I cannot do anything to take the pain and suffering away…I want to offer some encouragement, and all I really can say is this: Friend, allow God to take away the pain…He died on the cross so that He could live through you, and if we surrender our hurts and “cast our cares” (I Peter 5:7) upon Him, He will sustain us…I Peter 1:22 tells us to “love one another deeply, from the heart.” Friend, I cannot tell you how much I care for you, how much your friendship means to me…you are an amazing individual, so full of life and knowledge…so full of compassion and love…I am praying for you, by the hour, and often more than that…and I pray that you will find your hope and strength in the Lord Jesus, because He wants to take our yoke and to give us His (“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30). Friend, you know who you are, and I pray that you will seek the Lord with all your heart, because it is then that you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13)…I am ALWAYS here for you, even if I am not physically close to you.

Tomorrow will be another wonderful day…I will get to teach Sunday school again, to my junior-highers…I will be able to hear and see how they have grown since I saw them last…I will be able to worship my Lord and Savior…tomorrow night my fellow youth leaders are taking me out, to welcome me back, and I know that we are going to the Bonaventure, in downtown LA, to the rotating cocktail lounge…it is such a great place! They took me there in May, before I left for Pennsylvania, and it was such a beautiful view..great place…I am excited! Then I am going with Stephanie to her house to spend the night and spend my day off with her family. Good times!!

Anyway, thanks for reading…please pray for my friend…pray for peace, for guidance, for sustenance, and for God’s love to surround and fill my friend’s heart…:)

A Song…

My good friend, Jon Rossi, is quite the talented writer, and has composed many songs for his various bands throughout the years. He sent me this song today, and I thought it was worth posting. It captures the frustration of trying to capture God’s love and His Word in a simple song…

Lines On Paper

lyrics: Jon Rossi

Write some lines on some paper

Trying to turn my thoughts into ink

My hand can’t write as fast as my heart can think.

I don’t know what to say

How to turn eternity into a song we play

I don’t know what to write

How to take five minutes to describe everlasting life

Waiting for inspiration

Then the words cascade down like rain

Trying both to share myself, and to please You

I don’t know what to say

How to turn eternity into a song we play

I don’t know what to write

How to take five minutes to describe everlasting life

And these words that I’ve written

As I use my heart for show and tell

Will they touch the lives of others – will they care?

I don’t know what to say

How to turn eternity into a song we play

I don’t know what to write

How to take five minutes to describe everlasting life.

Thank you for sharing, Jon! If any of you have some poetry, song lyrics, etc that you would like me to post, send it to me at tangello2911@apu.edu