Loving God’s Children at OBUGS

Posted: July 12, 2011 by stanford bayup team in Uncategorized

By Sarah

Busyness is the hot topic these days. Like being busy. We’ve just finished Week 3 of BAYUP and Week 2 at our sites, and we’re all realizing that these six weeks are totally packed with tons to do and learn, leaving less time for processing everything we’ve seen and sharing with each other about it. But we still have been pretty good at making time for hanging out – Age and Sarah owned Chris and Rob at cribbage , we’re on chapter 22 of Hunger Games, and Mike, Nathan, and A’Lester have played way too much Monopoly with the guys in the CityTeam program. But we’ve also settled into a good routine of work. Sarah, Seisha, Nathan, and A’Lester work at Oakland Based Urban Gardens (OBUGS) from 11am to 5:30pm Tuesdays-Fridays. Our official title at OBUGS is “Volunteer Camp Counselor” and we help manage, teach, play with, and tease about 25 kids (6-11 years old) at St. Martin de Porres elementary school in West Oakland.

Hiking with the OBUGS kids at Tilden Park.

Each day, we make a (sometimes) delicious vegetarian meal with the kids and eat it together for lunch. These kids would much prefer Taco Bell or Burger King to the quinoa and kale salads we make, so there’s a rule called “Don’t yuck my yum.” This is to prevent them from saying something is “gross” or “the lentil soup is vomit” and make other kids not want to eat it either. Then we split the kids between a physical activity related (loosely) to science – Weed Assassin was a big hit and Plant Part Factory complete with rhyming chants was not – and then a science activity. This week, the theme was cycles, so the kids scooped out compost one day and looked through it with a magnifying glass. Then for the last hour they do art and gardening. The decoupage potpourri jars on Thursday were a hot mess, but it worked out okay. Then, each Friday OBUGS takes the kids on a cute red and white bus to a field trip. Last Friday was the Exploratorium in SF (super fun – Sarah and A’Lester struggled not to lose kids as they got distracted doing different activities themselves) and this Friday was a trip to Tilden Park up in the Berkeley hills for a hike, petting farm animals, and playing field games. Sarah beat up on some kids in soccer, and then one of her favorite six year olds, Halimah, fell asleep on her on the bus ride back. Another kid, Gabriel, who is crazy energetic when he is conscious, fell asleep with a half-chewed carrot stick hanging out of his mouth and the lead counselor, Elliot, took pictures of him.

Gabriel is dreaming of carrots.

But yeah, the overall experience with OBUGS has been great. We are having a pretty great time with these kids, who are all African American or Latino, and from families from a lower socioeconomic class in West Oakland. It’s a lot of work and pretty challenging to understand some of the behavioral problems sometimes, but we’re getting familiar with all the different personalities and learning how to see each kid with God’s eyes and love them where they are at.

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Hi friends and family,

This coming Monday evening (July 11th), you are welcome to come visit us and hear a bit about what we’ve been doing at Bayup. We’d love to see you guys there!

check out the evite: http://new.evite.com/services/links/X5KALFNKCY

What: Family and Friends Visitor Night
When: 7:00pm
Where: Regeneration Church, 
238 E 15th St., Oakland, CA 94606

– Stanford Bayup Team

Experiencing the Brokenness of the City

Posted: June 29, 2011 by stanford bayup team in Uncategorized

By Chris O’Brien

Though simulations, listening to talks, and exercises will never allow us to truly understand the lives of homeless, immigrants, or sexually exploited women, we were immersed in a few different activities during orientation week to help us at least begin to comprehend what these people’s everyday lives look like.

On Wednesday night we spent the night on the street sleeping in parking lots, on steps, and some in cars. As Bettie, a woman who has spent substantial time sleeping on the streets, remarked, “one night on the streets is nothing like being homeless”. Nevertheless, the experience did give us a glimpse into the freezing temperature, the incessant noise, and the looks of judgment (as well as the lack of recognition) that the homeless endure on a daily basis.

We also spent some time serving breakfast and interviewing day laborers alongside the Street Level Clinic, founded by Laura, a woman who was once herself an undocumented immigrant. Hearing her story and conversing with the workers (mostly in Spanish) opened our eyes to the lives lived by the migrant workers, mostly from Guatemala. The workers came to the U.S. in order to support their families, making the long and difficult trek from their native home into the States. They spend each day waiting alongside the road for work. Some days they find work and some days they don’t, but when they are offered work, they hop in the car, no questions asked. Sadly, many of the workers have been regularly exploited, either not getting paid at all for a full day’s work, or worse, being asked to engage in sexual activity in exchange for money.

We later walked the streets of International Avenue, attempting to understand the lives of sexually exploited women, who have, through coercion, brutality, low self-esteem, and financial need, fallen into offering sex in exchange for money.

We also listened to speakers from different organizations about each topic, and have learned a lot about the roots of these injustices, though there is still so much more to learn.

Though we won’t be dealing with all of these issues for the rest of the summer, learning about them has opened our eyes to the injustices that are faced by so many people in Oakland and in cities around the country.  Our hearts have begun to break for these injustices, and we will continue to ask God to use us for healing in these areas, and to heal us in the process as well.

We made it to Oakland!

Posted: June 24, 2011 by stanford bayup team in Uncategorized

After an intense week in Tahoe at Stanford’s end of the year conference, we basically jumped straight into orientation for BAyUP. Some of us didn’t even do any laundry in between and have been reusing camp clothes. *cough*chrisnathanandsarah*cough* But despite being in desperate need of some showers, we were all pretty pumped for the next six weeks together. We all came in fresh off of seeing God move powerfully in us and through us at Summer Conference and we were ready for anything.

BAYUP 2011 Participants from Cal, Chico St, Stanford, and UC Davis

So we arrived earlier this week and have been getting a crash course on the city of Oakland ever since. Alongside the other BAyUP teams (from Cal, UC Davis, and Chico St.), God has been speaking to us all about his heart for different people and parts of the city. We’ve begun to explore issues of homelessness, immigration, and sex-trafficking. Through scripture, experiential learning exercises, and exploration we have started to engage with the city through the lens of some of these people. God has forced us to engage with issues of justice on a deeper level than ever before. He has been breaking our heart for what breaks his.

We’ll share more after orientation is over, but it has been intense! In all honesty, we have been overwhelmed and exhausted at times, but each day the Lord has given us what we needed to continue engaging.

Pray for continued energy and excitement. Pray for open hearts to what God has for us. And pray that we can be regularly reminded of God’s love for us and his love for the city of Oakland.

Welcome to the Stanford BAYUP Blog!

Posted: June 9, 2011 by stanford bayup team in Awesomeness

bayup team

Hi everyone. We have created a team blog to keep you all updated with our adventures at BAYUP!

We are also sending out individual updates, but this blog is a great way to hear about some of our experiences as a team this summer. We will also post ways you can be praying for us. Please follow us by subscribing through email or via rss feed.

Feel free to also send us notes and encouragement by leaving comments throughout the summer. Thank you all for your prayers and support.

– Stanford BAYUP Team, 2011