A Community of Faith, Love, and Hope

One of the hardest things about moving to a new city is that you have to adjust to the new place and find things that can help making it feel like home. This is even more challenging when you don’t know anyone in the new city; relationships have to be established if you don’t want to be lonely in your new place. When my brother moved to Los Angeles area, he practically didn’t know anyone there. One thing that was helpful for him however was being plugged in to Mosaic, his church community there.

Mosaic called itself a community of faith, love, and hope. It is unique as it emphasizes outreach to the community in Los Angeles area in a relevant manner. They recognized that many people like my brother come to LA area from everywhere around US and even from other countries, looking to make a living in this sprawling city. For these newcomers, Mosaic provides a community that these newcomers can belong to where they can be respected and cared for regardless of where they came from. They also see many people coming to LA to be involved in creative fields (visual arts, performing arts, fashion, etc.), so there is also a thriving artist community within the church body that encourages people to use their art as means to worship. All of these were provided to reach out and build a community of people who share (or seek to learn about) the faith, caring and loving for others in the community, and help providing message of hope to those who might be living in what seem to be a dead-end, meaningless life.

Before my brother moved to LA, I had heard of Mosaic because of its outreach to various ethnic groups in LA. But my appreciation for its ministry increased as I experienced the community when attending their Sunday service / meeting. It really felt like a home away from home. You could tell that most of the attendees were ‘transplants,’ but for that one hour, it felt like you’re among friends and family, and you’re welcomed even if it’s your first time attending.

Before we left Los Angeles to start our coast-to-coast trip, we decided to attend the Sunday morning service at Mosaic. One last service, fitting for my brother to say goodbye to the community that was his family away from home during his couple of years living in LA. I took the photo below during that service. This was Erwin McManus, Mosaic’s leader and principal teacher, giving his message during the service.

Erwin McManus

Facebook and Traveling

In the last few years, Facebook and other social networking tools have become an integral part of society. it’s hard to believe that none of these existed more than 10 years ago. I personally started using Facebook less than four years ago. Now checking Facebook for the latest happenings from my friends is part of a daily routine, and it is becoming a norm to announce major life events or share important news in one’s life through Facebook postings, and for others to reciprocate with replies there.

Facebook also enables connection (or re-connection) among friends who otherwise live world’s apart. In my case, my list of Facebook friends include those who I interact with frequently in real life, as well as some old friends whom I knew from as far back as elementary school in Indonesia and who live half around the world away from where I live.

In relation to traveling, having this network of friends can be nice in planning a trip. Sometimes you find out that someone you know had been to the place you wanted to go, and you can ask them for thoughts or advice in planning your trip. Or better yet, someone you know may actually live in the area that you’re visiting, and not only you can ask them for advice on their area to visit, but you may also include a visit with them as part of your trip.

When my brother and I were planning our coast to coast road trip, we noticed that we would be passing several places where we knew of friends whom we can meet along the way. So we checked with these friends to see if we could meet up even only for a meal during a stopover that would give us a chance to catch up and see them in person.

The first of these meetings was with an old friend of mine who lives in Southern California area. We went to junior high and high school together back in Indonesia, and reconnected via Facebook as we re-established the network of old friends from school years ago. Now she lives in California with her husband and young daughter. When I told her that I would be coming to Southern California to start my road trip with my brother, she suggested that we meet up for lunch if we could make time for that. And fortunately it worked out pretty well and we were able to meet up.

The photo below was taken at a small Indonesian restaurant where my brother and I met up with my friend and her family. During the two years that my brother lived in the area, he had become a regular visitor to this restaurant and its adjacent grocery store, so he knew the store keeper and restaurant staff. This lunch also served as his last visit to the place to say goodbye before he moved on to the next chapter of his life back in the East Coast. So in one lunch, we were able to meet old friends, say goodbye to others, and also enjoy delicious foods. Not a bad start for the trip.

Simpang Asia lunch

Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a city about 14 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, California. It is known for its beach, and as an affluent area where some of the Holywood rich and famous live. Many people probably recognize the Santa Monica Pier, a landmark in Southern California with the little amusement park at the pier, white sandy beach nearby, and the row of expensive beach front homes. And the image of people at the beach and the lifeguards in red swimsuits were made famous worldwide with the TV series Baywatch.

I didn’t know much about the area until few years ago when my brother got a job with a company located there. During a couple of years that he worked and lived there, I had several opportunities to visit him, and came to appreciate the place. My brother lived in an apartment about 5-minute walk from the beach, and from his living room of his apartment we could actually see the beach in a distance. The temperature is pretty constant about few degrees cooler than in the inland, and the area enjoys around 310 days of sunshine a year. Despite of being in a driven metropolitan like Los Angeles, life seems to be more laid back as you get closer to the beach.

Few months before my brother moved back to the East Coast, I had a major life event happening, and my brother suggested that I took a little break and came over to California at least for a few days. I did that, and not only it was nice to hang out with my brother for a few days, but it’s also nice to just walk around the beach simply to get fresh air, watch life goes on around, and think about the next steps I would take in my life. What we didn’t know was that my brother himself would go through similar situation not long after, and he ended up making decision to move back to the East Coast afterwards.

The last time I went there was to mark the beginning of the road trip back to the East Coast with my brother. Now that I don’t really have anyone I know living there, I’m not sure if I have any reason for going there to visit. But at least the place has more meaning to me than simply a place you see on TV shows.

The photo below was taken the night before we started our road trip. This was the neon sign at the famous Santa Monica Pier.

Neon sign