March 7, 2013
While most college students head to the beach for fun and sun, or maybe home for rest and relaxation over spring break, three Wolfpack student-athletes decided to use their time off to minister to those in need.
Football's Asa Watson, men's soccer player Lee Grander and former women's soccer player Lauren "Woody" Woodson flew to Los Angeles on Friday to spend the week working for Athletes in Action's "Urban Project L.A." They will be working side-by-side with students from colleges all over the United States. On Sunday, they were joined by Julianna Prim from the Pack women's swimming team.
For Watson, a senior tight end, it marks his second trip to work on the project, as he helped work with kids on L.A.'s notorious Skid Row in the summer of 2011. This week, he is sharing his experiences and those of his fellow State student-athletes with GoPack.com.
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - I just got back from a run. I went running with the cross country kids from Michigan and Eastern Michigan. We probably ran about four miles - all the way down to USC. I tried to pretend it wasn't bothering me, but it kicked my butt. I have newfound respect for our cross country team.
First thing we did today was another seminar from a lady named Stephanie Moss - a social worker who has been involved with Athletes in Action for a while. She came to talk about looking at root problems. We might look at a certain person and see the fruit - they've been incarcerated, been involved in gangs, have a drug problem - but don't see the root problem.
After that we went to our service sites . I went back to Compton to the Salvation Army. The director had another job for us to do. He took us around back where the side of the building was covered with weeds. We worked for about three hours, clearing the weeds and organizing some things. We just showed it a little care.
I had a chance to connect with two boys- Emie and Sergio. I talked to them about what it's like to live in Compton. They both agreed that it's better than what it used to be. Emie said it used to be that he couldn't go outside to play. There were drive-by's while he was playing outside and he would have to hit the ground. They both said that rarely happens these days.
We came back and had dinner and then got ready for our prayer tour. On the prayer tour, we visited a couple of sites around the city and they gave us the history of that place and how God is moving there. The first spot we went to was Central City Community Church, which is the church I served last time I was here on Skid Row. I was reminded how much these people really suffer and how much poverty there is. We saw people pulling their tents out for the night, lining the streets. It was shocking for some of the people in our group who had never seen that before.
Then we went to McArthur Park - where the May Day Riots started. It used to be controlled by gangs. In the 90s they drained the pond there and found bodies and guns and evidence of murders and stuff. We prayed there for the change going on in that part of the city.
Then went to Home Boy Industries. That's a really cool ministry that helps gang members get a job and a place in the work force. Even if you have a record, they try to help you get a place to work. They have the Home Girl Café where ex-female gang members can come in and work as waitresses and cooks.
Then we spread out and thought about what it would be like to be homeless. It was pretty cold - in the 40s or 50s. I just tried to imagine that being my every day life. It was pretty powerful. It reminded me how grateful we need to be for being able to go home every night, to a warm building and to sleep in a bed.
Speaking of which, I'm pretty tired. The days are long and the air mattress I'm sleeping on isn't very comfortable. But this is a great experience.