Thursday, December 21, 2006

Funny Christmas Things

A funny thing on Christian radio...

Last night, I had to make a Save Mart run for Stella. She’s teething and boy, was she upset and we were out of baby pain killer stuff. So I got out of bed and went like all grumpy, tired fathers before me.

Amie had left the car radio on the christian station so I let it play. Now I’m not a regular listener of christian radio but it’s nice every once in a while (I used to be a DJ at one back before YWAM and I think I just had my fill). Anyhoo, there was this guy going on and on about keeping Christ in Christmas...all the stuff we hear all the time this time of year. And when we talk about such things we really like to use words that rhyme like...hustle, bustle and reason, season. Well this guy didn’t do that which impressed me. He actually found new ways to say those things we all already know. Dickens, Capra and Schultz are really all I’ve ever needed.

So right after this big encouragement to remember what Christmas is all about, the song that follows is a sultry CCM artist singing, “Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful...” I had a nice, ironic, christmas chuckle on the way to the store.

A funny thing in San Francisco...

We had Stella’s 3 month post-operation check up on Monday. We decided to take the boys with as it was my day off, stay in the city and see some seasonal sights. I looked online and found that the library had an interactive display of the Polar Express so we decide to do it. I had visions of being able to climb aboard the engine or a big coach. The boys were excited...well...Amie and I were excited.

Stella did great for her check up. Her team of doctors are really impressed with how she’s healed and is developing. Afterwards we got some great pizza at Blondie’s and parked near Union Square where we saw the big tree and headed up to the library. We figured out which bus to get on, got off at the right stop and went in the library. Excitedly, I kept looking around for the big model of the Polar Express train. I asked the information lady about it and she pointed us in the right direction. We walked up to it and it was a tiny model train in a glass case with Thomas the Tank Engine as well.

We just laughed, Sam enjoyed it and we sat in the children's library and read the Hanukkah story. It was nice...the boys had been asking about Hanukkah so now we story. We caught the little trolly back to Union Square, looked in the big Disney store and looked at some shop windows then came home. Whew!

Wal Mart...

Here. The Pastor is from my hometown. That's funny strange, not funny haha to me...probably no one else. This is something that I would like to see happen but I do not have much hope for it. I think we are just going to have to find other ways to get our stuff if we want to shop with conscience. It's really hard but I know it's possible.

Something Amie said...

And finally, Amie had the realization today that Dr. Phil is a classy Jerry Springer.

On that note, Happy Christmas and New Year!

Friday, December 08, 2006

City Council

I shared with our city council in Modesto this past Teusday. It was alrighht. They listened. They have to! There is a section of thier meetings called "Oral Communications" and any citizen can go and speak for 3 minutes about anything he wants. So this is what I cause I was so nervous.

"My name is Chris Whitler working for Youth With A Mission, Modesto at 4204 Dale Rd. I have lived and worked in the Modesto area for 5 years now. I came here to develop ministry in Modesto mostly to our poor. I have worked with various local church communities and organizations to help people in need. Mostly, I have walked the parks and South 9th St with a small team to make friends, bring food and help folks as best we can.

I'vecome here today to finally speak to you on behalf of the poor here in our area. I am grateful for your willingness to serve our community. I appreciate the initiative to get a winter shelter for single men and women. It is a good start. And I am thrilled to see Agenda item 5 in tonight's meeting. The need is overwhelming in our community and if we do not start talking about simple, sufficient, cost effective housing for our poor things are only going to get worse and they will not go away. To give our whole city over to the commuter house developer and the big stores the people in those houses crave is to sell away the heart of our community. The target worker cannot afford to live in the community target serves...this is not a dead statistic to me...this is Diana and Stella who care for kids and grandkids.

It will be you and the bi-laws you implement that make way for the opportunity for all of Modesto's citizens to have what all people in all communities deserve - the dignity to make a way for themselves in this world. The poor continually face discouragement, rejection and difficulty. It is leadership's responsibility to make a way for the poor IN provide a way for them to exist in the community you serve. This council cannot impose long term change on an individual, you can only make ways for our city to change to accomodate individuals in their process. A good friend was recently evicted from his home by our city bi-laws. He was staying in his sister's backyard in a camper. The camper area was clean, he took care of the yard, he maintained sobriety and lived quietly. The house got a letter stating the set up was illegal and my friend had to move out. The city of Modesto prefers him homeless.

Our society does not want homeless people sleeping hidden in the parks or on city property and yet this happened. We've got to do better and think more creatively. I ask that you start by letting families help out their own by allowing back yard campers to have people in them...and of course by-law enforcement would be implemented in any situation where a yard is unsightly or neighbors act unruly. Let's start to talk about a legal camping area, a non-profit, co-operative trailer park or a safe parking area for people that sleep in their car.

For thousands of years, many different people groups have made a way for themselves with dignity living in tents. Shelters are temporary and do nothhing for families with kids or the mentally ill who cannot bring themselves to sleep in a room full of strangers. Our team wants to work with you and others in our city. What's is happening in our city toward these ends? Are there things of which I am unaware? What can we do to help?"

After I read this the Mayor said, "Thank you" and that was that. I sat down with Aaron and then the Parks director came up to us and requested a meeting. So we're going to get together. Then a police officer approached us and asked to talk out in the hall. He is an outreach officer who committed to helping us however he can. All in all, it was good. I an really grateful to live in a place where, even if my view aren't shared, that I can be heard.