July 29, 2000 - This weekend is the beginning of our California Tour led by Glenn Duh, our assistant Vision director. For those that are 18 and over, they got together at church at six o clock in the morning to leave for North Kern County Prison. The rest of the team got together in Glendale at noon. Since there were not enough soprano singers, we asked Anna Yutan, a former member of Vision who has been around for a long time, to join the team to sing in the prison. Just like the previous years, the inmates with a warm welcome received Vision. Some of the team members ran into old friends they had met in the previous visits. John Ngai gave his testimony and many of the inmates were very touched by it. They felt they could related to what John was sharing about. The chaplain bought lunch for the team. We had a chance to eat well once again. After lunch, the team went to a second chapel and sang there. The inmates welcomed us with enthusiasm again. Calvin gave his testimony and Mongens Yu preached. We had a chance to interact with the inmates afterward and many have expressed their difficulty in trying to live a Christian life in prison. May we continue to keep them in our prayers. We left the prison to join the rest of the team in Bakersfield (those under 18) who had prepared a nice dinner for us.
July 30, 2000 - The team woke up early next morning to clean up the church before the members of the church arrived. Mongens led the team in devotions. He shared with the team about how we respond as a team to the crowd. There are times we are enthusiastic because the crowd had responded well. But when the crowd is silent, the team is down and ineffective. The main message of the devotion was to show how we not only needed to be effective in front of people but also in the background when no one is around. The devotion was a strong wake up call to many people. We spend the remaining of the devotion time to reflect and pray for the church. We then sang for about 40 minutes to their congregation and were treated to a great lunch cooked by their members.
August 4, 2000 - This is the last weekend of the California Tour. We headed down to San Diego area to sing at local church and prisons. Part of the team left from Cerritos, while the others left from Glendale. Praise God that there were not much traffic going down to San Diego on a Friday afternoon. We reached Chinese Evangelical Church without any trouble or problems. It has been five years since we were last there. Some of their church members remembered a few members from Vision since the last time we were there. The church had prepared dinner for us and we were once again well feed. During the concert, Glenn gave a touching testimony about choosing to walk with God or walk on his own path. Many people listened to his testimony and took it to heart. After the concert, the team left with many members from the church to Sam Woo for another tasty meal. We got back to the church a little after midnight and went to bed.
August 5, 2000 - When we woke up the next morning, all of our cars were teepeed. Apparently, some of the guys from the church snuck into the parking lot and teepeed all the Vision cars. It was hilarious. We took some pictures of it and realized how blessed we were that there are other brothers and sisters in Christ who loved us so much. The master chef of the church came in with a group of people and cooked breakfast for us. Another delicious meal indeed. At this rate, we are all going to gain weights. We departed shortly after breakfast. The eighteen and older team with Anna Yutan left for Calipatria to sing in a prison; while the under eighteen packed up and went home since some of them were on the Mexico short term team leaving the next day.
It was a long drive to Calipatria. It took a total of three hours from San Diego to arrive the prison. The temperature had reached up to 120 degrees and the car was getting a good workout from going up and down the mountains. We arrived at Calipatria without much problem. We met up with the chaplain and went to a multi-purpose outdoor gym for our concert. When we arrived, there was a crowd waiting for us. We settled in and mingled with the crowd. It was a different experiences for many Vision members since there was a guard tower at the top watching us. The guards have rifles and guns ready anytime to shoot in case any incident might break out. It took us a little time to get used to it. The best part of the concert was when we had crowd participation. When we sang Amazing Grace, the congregation stood up and praised God. They enjoyed our different version of Amazing Grace too. They learned the song quickly and sang with us. We checked into a hotel after we finished singing. We freshen up ourselves to prepare for our night concert back in the prison. The chaplain met up with us at the hotel and provided dinner for us. If you havent notice the pattern by now, God has truly blessed us with food this year. We went to a chapel to sing this time. It was crowded. Many inmates were there to greet us. We mingled with the inmates before the concert. The mens choir opened the concert by doing some songs of their own. It was a wonderful worship time for everyone. When we sang Amazing Grace, the congregation stood up and joined us. The place definitely felt like the house of the Lord. We were able to mingle with the inmates again after the concert. Some inmates have asked for guidance in regards to what they should do when they get out of the prison in several months. We were able to connect them with the chaplain for guidance. We headed back to the hotel at around 9:00 p.m. and hung out for the remainder of the night.
August 6, 2000 - We woke up early the next morning to head to our last destination for our final concert on tour. The team was excited we were heading to another prison to share the good news with the inmates. Unfortunately, we got lost along the way. The map we had printed out gave us the wrong directions. Glenn took his car to drive around to ask for directions. The other two cars stayed behind and began to pray. Shortly after, Glenn returned and found the way. It turned out we were heading toward the wrong direction. So we had to double back to the other side and make up for the lost time and distance. John Ngai called the chaplain and left a message we would be late. By the time we arrived at El Centro prison, there was a long line ahead of us. Since its Sunday, many family members came to visit their loved ones. We had to wait in line and it seemed like it took forever. By the time we got to the front of the line, we were told we could have cut to the front and gone straight in. By now, we were an hour and a half late. We parked the car and met up with the chaplain. When we met up with the chaplain, we found out we were there to sing three concerts, not two. Two of them overlap one another. At first we thought about splitting the team, but we realized it would be much better for us to go from one to another as one team. We rushed to the chapel and began to sing. As soon as the service was over, we left quickly and rushed over to lunch. The chaplain treated us to Carne Asada. He told us that this is where Carne Asada is originated. It was really good and tasty. Everyone was full.
We went to our next concert and the atmosphere felt like we were at a Southern Black church. It was lively. It was everything you can imagine from the movies of watching a Black church in service. The crowd was alive. Every word that was said and sang they commented. It was different for us. We have never been in a service like this before.
We went to our last service and they were worshipping already. There were approximately 60 inmates there. When we began our program, the inmates were excited to hear Gods Word. We again sang Amazing Grace. It is such a powerful song. All the inmates stood up and praised God. The presence of the Lord was strong in the chapel. They also enjoyed our version of Amazing Grace too. They learned the song and sang along with us. By the end of the concert, one man stood up and received Christ as his Lord and Savior. Everyone in the room was encouraged and applauded the young man for his bold decision. We prayed with some inmates after the concert and left the prison shortly after. The team was very encouraged and blessed of how God has worked in different ways and in remote areas where no one really goes. What a blessed year it has been for us. I pray that God will continue to use us more.