Santa Monica Summer Project

Santa Monica Summer Project
My roommates and I on the first day

Friday, August 16, 2013

1 Week Post Project

I've been traveling for the past week as I'm in limbo between summer project and moving into my apartment, so I haven't had time to process project on this blog. I will hopefully get around to that next week after I'm moved in, but for right now, I wanted to share this video with you. Thank you all for your prayers and support this summer. God has definitely been moving in Santa Monica!

Santa Monica Summer Project Outreach

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Past Two Weeks

Santa Monica Summer Project is officially over! Before I address the reality of project ending and what that means for me and the other 65 college students that I spent the summer with, I'd like to share a little bit about my last two weeks in Santa Monica.

Since the last time I posted, so much has happened -- so much, in fact, that I did not even have time to sleep more than 5 hours a night, let alone think about posting on this blog. Specific things may be harder to come by, but I will give a general overview.

During the week of July 29-August 4, our theme was "Armor of God". We learned about the meaning behind each piece of armor and how we can humble ourselves to put on this armor every day. I grew up with knowledge of the armor of God, but I don't think I ever took it seriously until I studied it this summer. I learned about the metaphors behind each piece of armor and what they represent. If you haven't studied up on the armor of God, I encourage you to do that sometime soon!

The week itself seemed pretty similar to every other week here on project...lots of work and things to do after work. However, I have noticed that the weeks feel different because I can approach each week with a new light from things I have  been learning. Work became a more joyful experience for me because I chose to put myself in a good mood rather than to focus on how tired and stressed I was. I got the free time to hang out with coworkers again, so I had a movie night with a few Tocaloma friends.

The weekend brought more things to do, as always. Friday night I got to spend the evening with my Roommate, Janee. We spent the time talking about project, God, and what we were going to bring back to our campuses. It was a wonderful time! Saturday was spent in God's word and with friends before the genders split for retreats. On Saturday night, the girls got to go to someone's beach house to spend the night. While there, we talked about real life struggle and how we can support each other through our issues. We also got the chance to write encouragement cards to people. It was great to get the chance to be intentional with people and receiving those encouragement cards meant so much to me!

Sunday was an eventful day as well! I got the opportunity to play harmonica in front of church during offering. It was something I had never done before and it was super cool to put myself out there. Right after church, all of us drove to the beach to have our own baptism service! 14 students here on project decided to publicly give their life to Christ in front of their brothers and sisters. It was crazy to see the pure joy in each and every one of us. Even God was celebrating with us by sending massive waves our way! This baptism service was exactly what we needed in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit to go out and share afterword. We did an outreach event called "What's your Story?" in which we asked people to give us three words to describe their life, three words to describe how they want to be remembered, and eventually led to us asking them what their opinions were on life after death. I had two amazing conversations that day. One with a Buddhist, who focused all on works and not at all on faith. I got the chance to share the Gospel with him and although I don't know how well he understood it, I know that the Holy Spirit was speaking through me the whole time I was speaking. The second guy I talked to was a Christian, but had been ignoring God and his faith for the past few years. God gave me the opportunity to remind him that he is forgiven of his sin and that he can be filled with the Spirit and be walking in the Spirit because he is freed from sin. It was an amazing conversation! Outreach concluded all major events for the weekend, so I spent to evening preparing for the one last week we had ahead of us.

The theme for the last week of project was "the Mission of Christ". We talked about how God calls each of us to live an uncomfortable life and how our life is a mission field. It was cool to come to the realization that everybody has a different Mission of Christ because God calls us in different directions. I knew this week was going to be hard because we were nearing the end, but the men took that as an opportunity to bless the women, and they did that wonderfully! Tuesday night was bless the women night. We got to dress up, each delicious food, and watch a talent show put on by the men. It was amazing to see the hearts of these men as they went out of their way to reach out out to us. I felt truly blessed and affirmed by these men.

Instead of having Jesus night on Wednesday night like we normally do, we decided to have a testimony night instead. We spent hours and hours listening to each other's testimonies and praying for each other. Watching people open their heart up was truly a gift from God.

Thursday was our banquet! We all got dressed up to enjoy an evening to reflect on everything that had happened this summer. 29 people came to Christ this summer, and that is something to celebrate! We ate dinner, shared some laughs, and had a dance party to give all the glory to God.

Friday was the last day of project and included cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. We packed up, cleaned the motel, and spent our last little bit of quality time together. After dinner, we all drove up to a point in the palisades that overlooks Santa Monica. We wrote letters to send to ourselves and prayed over Santa Monica -- what has happened and what God will do in the future. After the sun went down, we spent an hour in worship and in prayer. It was an amazing way to end my last day on project.

After arriving back at the Palm, the time of goodbyes began. And I will talk more about that the next time I get a chance to write. Thank for for the prayers! God Bless.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

This is the Home Stretch

So much has happened since the last time I posted, so I will briefly catch you up before I share about my feelings as project is coming to its ending point pretty quickly.

Friday night (7/19), Trinity Baptist put on an open mic night in which people could sign up to perform. We had several people from project go up to show off their talents -- singing, playing piano, bagpipes, and even slam poetry. It was amazing to sit back and notice how much talent God has given us and how awesome it is that we choose to utilize it.

Saturday included discipleship with my roommate and discipler, Janee, sharing with my friend Ryan, and a SMSP Olympics event at night. To fill a day with growing in Christ, doing His work, and experiencing Christian community is always something I will love. Sunday we spent our outreach time serving ACTS church, a different church that uses the same building as Trinity Baptist. We went door to door asking people to fill out demographics surveys so that ACTS would begin to know how to reach the community. It was cool to spend outreach time building God's kingdom in a different way -- through the church.

As always, the weekdays fly by. Well, I guess the days themselves seem to be dreadfully long, but at the end of the day I am always surprised to notice how quickly this project is coming to an end. This past week our theme has been God's love for us. We looked through several different pieces of scripture but focused on Romans 8:31-39 (if you haven't read it, I encourage you to look through it and meditate on it -- it's a great passage!). In Bible study on Tuesday, we talked about how God's love is sovereign, great, abiding, unfailing, unalienable, constraining, and everlasting. Before this week, I never really took the time to pay attention to all the different qualities of God's love, so it has been cool to see how God has worked in my heart through that.

Thursday night we had another community event -- Tacky Prom. We all dressed in thrifty outfits and enjoyed a night of dancing with fellow friends and just enjoying our community. I am going to miss everyone when project ends!

Boy do we know how to do thrifty.

As the days and weeks fly by, it's easy to let work get the best of me. I have been continually tired from everything going on, but I truly believe that God has given me energy each and every day to engage with children at work and still have the energy to enjoy my fellow college students at night. I have also loved building relationships with coworkers! As always, Tuesday night volleyball is a blast. It is so fun to hang out with fellow workers in a normal environment. Also, I got the chance to go to a friend's house from work on Saturday night for dinner, dessert, and hot tub time. It's always refreshing to make new friends and it has been so cool getting to know her! Ahhh I just love building relationships so much.

And finally to talk about this past weekend! Yesterday (Saturday) 20 of us went on a prayer hike to the Hollywood sign. We hiked up enjoying the scenery and talking with friends, and once we were up at the top, we spent an hour in prayer over whatever was on our hearts. Prayer does amazing things and I was totally convicted during the prayer time of how little I pray and how I need to be more serious about it. We prayed for project, for Santa Monica, for our workplaces, and much more. God does hear our prayers and I want to believe that to the point of actually praying continually.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in al circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

My roommates and I above the Hollywood sign.

Today we spent outreach doing a spirituality survey. Although all the conversations I had were not super deep, I know of one person that accepted Christ through a conversation and several believers who took our survey and rededicated their lives to Christ. God is changing hearts here in Santa Monica and I am continually amazed!

Regarding the rest of project

There are only 12 days left of project and I am not quite sure what emotions to feel! On one hand, I have loved the opportunity to grow and learn in a loving community such as this one, but on the other hand, I am super excited to see what God has in store for me with my second year at APU, and I am anxious to get started there. I want these last 12 days here to be the most life-changing. I want to wake up every morning surrendering myself to God so that He can use me at work and in Santa Monica. I want to enjoy my time with the friends I have here before we will be separated. I want to invest all of my time into this community and the city of Santa Monica and I want to leave this project with no regrets of how I spent my summer.

After project ends, I know there will be a period of sadness and mourning over the ending of such a wonderful community. However, because I am anticipating this, I am prepared to pray fervently and faithfully for a continued heart for God. I will be praying that God keeps my mind from wandering and slipping back into old ways of living my life the way I want to live it rather than how God wants me to live it.

Prayer Requests:

  • a girl on project (Taylor) got a concussion earlier this week from a frisbee. Pray for continued healing
  • for those who have prayed to receive Christ so far on project. Pray for a continued curiosity and for God to reveal Himself to them in mighty ways
  • for Post Project Depression (PPD) --> it has a name and initials because it is a very real thing. Going from a large community back to nothing (before school starts) will be very difficult
  • for perseverance in these last two weeks. God will use us up until the day we leave, but we need to be open to listening to His will

Thursday, July 18, 2013

quick little update

I might post a more detailed update as time presents itself, but time has yet to present itself so I will settle with a quick update.

This week has been awesome. Our theme is humility...which is horrible and fantastic at the same time. Humility is something that is easy to talk about but really hard to truly understand and try to live it out. God has been convicting me big time, but that's a good thing. I need humility in approaching God. I need humility in my job here as Operations Director. I need humility in putting others before myself. Basically the whole pride/humility issue has been prominent in my life.

My birthday was on Monday so I took the day off of work and spent the day with friends. I have never felt so loved -- it was surreal. My roommates from APU, Bianca and Mika, drove out to take me to lunch and we got to see each other for the first time since project started. It was so refreshing! Everyone here on my project went out of their way to make sure my day was special. My roommates here, Janee and Alex, decorated the inside of my room, while other people decorated my door with sticky notes and wrapping paper. People here wrote cards and people from home (IL) sent cards/gifts in the mail. A cake was made for me and Trevor (a guy on project who has the same birthday as me!), and we got to spend the evening of our birthday worshipping our Lord -- what could be better?!?

Work at camp has been busy. There have been so many kids this week! It's easy to view teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding as redundant, but it has been cool to challenge myself in always being intentional with the children and in giving all of my energy to them. Building relationships with coworkers has been harder than I thought it would be, but progress is still being made. Tuesdays after work all of my coworkers play volleyball at the beach and I have been able to attend this for two weeks in a row! This week me and the other Cru employees taught our coworkers how to play spike ball (if you still don't know what this is, I am disappointed in you for not looking it up when I talked about it in my post a few weeks ago). They got really into it and hopefully we will be able to hang out with them more and play lots of spike ball.

Tonight (Thursday 7/18) the Women's Team put together a dinner to thank the men here for everything they do for us. We dressed in black, put red ribbons in our hair, and served the men dinner. We wrote them cards to thank them for how much they have done for us, and we performed a dance for them on stage. I was surprised to find how much joy it brought me to serve others instead of being served. The night was a total success! After dinner one of the men on our lead team gave a short talk about the power of prayer and the importance of prayer. It is definitely something that I will be thinking about and praying about that (yes -- praying about prayer) for the next few days.

Overall, this week has taught me so much about the importance of community. By lifting each other up, we can never end a day in a bad mood. As this is the midpoint of project, it is easy to hang out with the people that you connect with or are close to, but this week I have prayed about expanding my horizons. I have been able to get to know several girls that I never really talked to until this week. I am so overwhelmed with God's goodness in this. Every single person on project is here for a reason and they all have blessed me or will bless me in my time here.

Now that I look over this post, I guess it's not brief after all. When a girl's gotta talk, a girl's gotta talk. Thank you all so much for your support prayerfully and financially this summer. It is changing many lives!

Prayer Requests

  • Energy for all of us. I work 40 hours a week and sleep very little. Many others here on project have a similar schedule
  • Continued safety -- one of the guys here on project almost got hit by a car on his longboard earlier this was scary!
  • For the people of Santa Monica, that their hearts would be opened and that God would prepare them for conversations that we might have with them, and that they would be encouraged and see something different in us.
  • For wisdom as all of us are here without staff. Wisdom for the lead team as they make decisions and wisdom in the decisions that all of us make with our time.

Friday, July 12, 2013

...and God continues to move!

As I said in the last post, staff was getting ready to leave, so these past few days have been really important!

Saturday, the sixth, was my last discipleship with my amazing discipler, Jenny. We talked about truth and grace and how they should be balanced in an ideal relationship. Figuring out the areas in my life where I tend to lean towards performance (all truth and no grace) was an eye-opening experience, and I am excited to see how God changes my heart throughout the rest of the summer. Saturday night we had the staff v. students softball game. It was a great way to end unity week, although we did lose the softball a lot.

My action group at the softball game!

Sunday was the unity service at the church we attend. Six churches came together. It was amazing to experience different kinds of worship (Gospel choir, Spanish music, prayer in Korean), and it definitely opened my eyes to the world around me. After church, students met with different staff members in the roles that they were chosen to serve in for the rest of project. SMSP staff has chosen me to be the Director of Operations for the rest of project (explained below). We were trained in these roles for a few hours before our outreach event for the day. For outreach, we stood next to the pier with signs containing tough questions such as "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and "Why would a good God let his people go to Hell?". By holding these questions, we were hoping to spark up spiritual conversations with people. I was skeptical to this approach at first, but it was cool to see how God was present and moving in several conversations that afternoon.

Week 4

This week is Love the World week! Monday's dinner was devoted to spreading awareness about the condition of the world and the many different people groups in it. It was a very convicting experience, as I truly saw how distracted we are as Americans and how much need there is around the world.

Tuesday after work, I got the chance to hang out with coworkers! The four of us that work there and are a part of Cru decided to skip out on dinner and go to our coworker volleyball night at the beach. It was cool to spark conversations with the people I work with and I can't wait to get to know them even better at volleyball next week! After volleyball, we had our last Bible study with staff. It was a great reflective experience, but we are all going to miss them so much for the rest of project!

Last Day with Staff

Wednesday night we had a banquet to celebrate the half way point of project and to reveal to everyone what students were taking over what positions for the staff. There are 9 teams as described below:

Lead Team: 2 directors and 4 others to help them with decisions
Outreach Team: focused on how we can reach the city of Santa Monica
Community Team: focused on bringing all of us together
Men's Team: focused on the needs of the men (self-explanatory)
Women's Team: focused on the needs of the women (self-explanatory)
Prayer and Vision Team: focused on maintaining the focus of project
Operations Team: manages the project budget and all behind-the-scenes stuff
Events Team: plans events such as our end-of-the-year banquet
Action Group Leaders: lead Bible studies and disciple fellow students on project

As I stated above, staff has chosen me to be Director of Operations for the rest of project. I am nervous/excited to serve in this role -- it includes monitoring the funds of project as well as making sure that things at our motel and the church run smoothly. This opportunity was given to me by God and I can't wait to use this position to grow in Him and glorify Him with everything. I constantly need to humble myself because God is above all and in all.

The action group at the banquet

Overall, it was so cool to see everyone come together and share what God has been doing so far on project. Eleven people have come to know the Lord! We have initiated well over 600 conversations so far and Santa Monica is responding well.

The rest of the week...

Thursday's dinner was such a weird experience. The room felt so empty without staff there. Although it felt like something was different, I was amazed to also have the feeling of completeness within our project. Staff has equipped us well, and even though we miss them dearly, we are capable of big change on our own for the next four weeks. I am stoked to see what will happen.

Prayer Requests

  • God would continue to convict us of ways that we can change while we are on project
  • Project would continue to run smoothly now that staff is gone
    • Everyone would do their role to the best of their ability
    • We would all stay humble in the position we were called to serve in
  • The Holy Spirit would speak through us as we share the Gospel
  • We would all have a renewed sense of energy as we go into the second half of project

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hello July!

This week has been all about communication because staff will be leaving us on July 10 to finish the project on our own. Monday's Bible study was all about the body of Christ and how it works together. It has been cool to pay attention to the different parts of the body of Christ because it has helped me to realize how important each and every one of us are in this community. We all have strengths where others have weaknesses and we have the ability to change and do great things this summer.
            Staff has been giving us clues and challenges to build up our communication skills. Monday night a message was passed on that we had to sit next to the opposite gender at dinner and serve someone else their food. It was cool to see the power of communication through the passing on of a message. Tuesday our challenge was to meet in the courtyard of our motel in silence. The purpose of this was so that we could take a project picture. I was amazed to see how quick and efficient everything was when all of us kept quiet and listened to one leader.

One thing God has been teaching me is how to put others before myself. At the beginning of project, I had been treating others poorly after getting home from work because I was being tired and selfish. This past week I have been praying for this to change and I have come home from work with the attitude that other people could have also had a pretty tiring day and they might also be in a bad mood. This has helped me to have more of a servant's heart. It feels great to have a slight change, but I know I still have a long way to go in God's eyes.

Another thing that I have been working on is pride. I think every human has a sense of pride, but it is hard for us to move anywhere in our relationship with Christ if we have not humbled ourselves before him. Humility is key!

I had a shortened week at work because of the fourth of July. Having two days off was a total blessing! On the fourth of July, all of my siblings came to visit me. I was so surprised! I was wonderful to spend the morning seeing family since we won't be back together for a long time. My sister, Maddie, is actually moving to Budapest, Hungary in one month to teach English for the next few years. Check out her blog if your interested ( After seeing my family, the rest of the day was dedicated to our outreach bonfire on Venice Beach. We got to play spike ball, teach others how to play spike ball, and share God's love in a wonderful community (if you don't know what spike ball is, google it right now…it's a wonderful game).

All the Bultema siblings together for the fourth!

Like I said above, I was blessed to have Friday off of work. I spent the day rejuvenating with quiet time, sharing the Gospel, and having deep, reflective conversations with others. It's important to talk about and reflect on this experience because we will never be in a community as encouraging towards Christ as this one. These past three weeks have been a total blessing and I cannot wait to see how God uses us in Santa Monica for the rest of our time here.

Prayer Requests:

Please pray for continued safety for all of us here. We had to rush a student to the ER the other day for a pinched nerve that paralyzed part of her body. It was scary, but God continues to keep us safe. 
Pray for the people that we approach, that God has been preparing their heart for the truth that we will speak to them.
Pray for all of us students as staff leaves next Wednesday and we are responsible for running the rest of project on our own.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Long Awaited Update

It's been a while sine I last posted, and for that, I am so sorry! My time here is jam packed with work, community, and growing in my faith. Since I last posted, things are only getting better. Thursday after work and dinner, I went with my impact group on a little scavenger hunt which we called the Taste of Santa Monica. Some of the things we had to do include meeting someone form a different country, talking with a  street performer, and getting a picture on the carousal. It was a great night of getting to know my group better and bonding a whole new level.

Fridays are our day off, and I used the time getting to know a girl from my Bible study, Jen. She is going to be a senior at UCLA, so it's great to get advice on life from someone who has a bit more experience than me. 

Because I work 40 hours a week, my weekends are filled with ministry. I get discipled in the morning and go sharing in the afternoon. On Saturday, the 22nd, I shared with an atheist. This was the first time I shared with someone who was putting my beliefs down the whole time I was speaking. Although it was a bit scary at first, I know the Holy Spirit was with me as I defended everything he threw my way and still shared the Gospel with him.

Sunday after church we went sharing again, but this time with something called perspective cards. We stood in a group holding signs talking about human nature and waited for people to come to us. This method was a bit different and difficult at first, but about halfway through our time, a girl approached us and ended up accepting Christ! Her story was amazing, too. She was supposed to get on a plane to New York but something inside of her was telling her to miss her plane and go to the beach. She had been praying to some higher being (God), asking Him to reveal Himself to her and that is EXACTLY what he did. Man, God is awesome.

Week of June 24-30

Now that I've been working for a few weeks, everything is becoming easier. On the other hand, now that I'm getting to know my coworkers and developing relationships with them, my job has become about trying to share my faith with them, befriend them, and learn about their perspectives on life. Working a full time job while on project has been more tiring than I first expected, but I'm finally getting the hang of it. We often have dress up days, which is fun for the kids but difficult for me. So far I have dressed up as a superhero, a ninja, and a peasant (for Renaissance day).

We have been doing daily devotionals on project that have focused on confessing and turning from sins as well as praising God for who he is. Through these, I have grown so much in the past few weeks…more than I could ever imagine.

On Thursday after work, a few of us met and hung out with a guy named Jeffrey, who just moved here from Shanghai, China only three weeks ago. Having the opportunity to be Jeffrey's first group of friends is amazing! I already know he has been impacted by us and I can only hope that he accepts Christ as his savior sometime soon.

Jeffrey and friends at Menchies froyo

This past weekend has been absolutely amazing. Friday night was our day off, and most of us spent it learning how to swing dance at the Getty (a free art museum just 20 min north of Santa Monica). It was a great time of community and fun. Saturday morning after discipleship, I went sharing with a girl in my Bible study, Annie. We talked with 3 people, two of which spoke minimal English. It was a harder day of sharing, but it definitely opened my eyes to the true reality of what sharing is like.

After sharing, the afternoon was set aside for the men's conference and the women's conference. A wonderful family that supports Cru allowed the women to use their house in Malibu for the evening. We got the chance to relax, then heard a wonderful message about how we can grow in our faith. We also did an activity where we wrote down all the lies that we believe about ourselves, nailed them to a cross, then listened to all the truths about ourselves. For me, one of the things I have been struggling with is self-confidence and attempting to find my worth in relationships and affirmation. However, this activity pointed me to a verse that I have now committed to memory.

"No man comprehends its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living." -Job 28:13

The women's conference definitely convicted me of searching for worth where it cannot be found. Learning that my worth is found through Christ alone was the most freeing moment of project! I don't know much about the men's conference, but I do know that they did a lot of exercising…it was pretty much a boot camp.

All the girls at women's conference

Sunday after church, we got the opportunity to spend the afternoon caring for the homeless in this area. We made care packages and walked around trying to get into conversation with people and share God's love. I did this with Tommy and Janee (people from my impact group). Although this was a great opportunity, it broke my heart to hear from homeless people how broken their life is. Both of the people we talked to seemed to have lost their mind, or were on the verge of losing their mind. Regardless of their condition, the Gospel is still for them and we got to live that out by giving them a small care package.

Overall, my time so far in Santa Monica has been a blessing. Please pray for this city as it is continuing to change and seek after things (hopefully God). Pray for the safety of all of us here on project (there have been a few car accidents, a sprained ankle, and a pretty severe eye injury, but everyone is safe as of now). Pray for this community as we learn from each other and figure out what to do once staff leaves next week. Thank you for everything!