Only in California!

Okay, so this has got to be one of the greatest things I have seen at APU. We have a large courtyard in the middle of our apartment complex, and all the apartments surround the courtyard (a giant rectangle). Well, right now, the APU Barbecue Club (yes, this is a club!) is hosting a Super Bowl party in the courtyard…they brought out a big screen TV, a smaller TV, all the couches from the laundry room, and of course, the barbecues. This is great: only in California can you tan while watching the Super Bowl…it is a little chilly today, so I probably won’t go join them, but it is amusing, nonetheless! They even created “stadium seating” by putting one of the couches on chairs…I love APU!

By the way, there was an article about APU in Time Magazine this week (February 2 issue). It is a good article! I learned a lot about APU that I didn’t know before! For instance, we are the second largest Christian school in the country (I knew that we were up there, but I didn’t realize that we are #2). We have 8,200 students now (grad and undergrad). Wow! Check it out sometime, if you get a chance. Read the article

6 days until Mel comes! 🙂

Church was good today. Our new youth ministers (husband and wife team) came today, and it was great to meet them. It will be a blessing to minister with them! I am on worship team for the next two weeks, and I am singing 2 solos in the next month for “special music.” I love being able to use my talent for the Lord, and to lead others into a time of worship!

Alright, I need to catch up on my homework. 🙂 Go Patriots!!

I’m Home!

Back at APU…Thank you all for praying for my grandmother. She had a quadruple bypass on Thursday afternoon, and everything went well. She was supposed to be in ICU for 24-48 hours, but she was doing so well that they took her out of ICU after only 15 hours! The power of prayer!! She is in a bit of pain, as is understandable…but she looks great. Please continue to pray for her, as she has a long road of recovery ahead. She is expected to come home Monday or Tuesday. 🙂

It was great to be there with my family…much needed….many thanks to Dan for providing the ticket. It meant the world to me! I spent most of the week with my “nephew” Nathaniel, being his nanny so that my aunt could have some time with Grandma. (He is really my cousin, but since there is a 20 year age difference, I decided that I wanted to be “Aunt Lesa.” :)) He is such a darling!!

I will post more later. I am tired, and am watching a movie with my roommates….but, some interesting plans with the roomies for Valentine’s Day are in the works. 🙂

Flying Home

Hey everyone. I am flying home in a few hours to be with my family, and to see my grandmother. Please pray for safe travels for everyone who is flying in…but more importantly, please pray for my grandmother and for the surgeons…

One piece of cool news: A week from Saturday, Mel Gibson is coming to APU to show us “The Passion of the Christ”, his new movie!! They had 2,000 tickets for APU students, and I got one of them today, after waiting in line for about 2 hours. 🙂 I can’t wait! Mel Gibson, talking to us about the movie, and then seeing it 2.5 weeks before it hits theaters! APU ROCKS!!

Anyway, just pray. I’ll be in Sacramento until Sunday night. 🙂

Prayer request…

I have a really urgent prayer request…my grandmother (Ruth)is having quadruple bypass surgery on Thursday…please pray. I am so worried. This is such a major surgery…please pray…lots….

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 🙂 More later!