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Rising fourth year outfielder Cynthia Javaras spent part of her summer on a mission trip to Los Angeles, Calif. The Princeton, Mass., native chronicles her journey in this blog.

This summer, from June 5-27, I was fortunate enough to be able to serve in the inner city communities of Los Angeles. The mission trip was organized through Athletes in Action which is a fellowship of Christian athletes located on campuses across the country, including UVa. On the trip, I stayed with 40 other student-athletes from colleges and universities around the country along with 10 staff members. We were split up into five ministry teams around the city and my site was on “Skid Row.”

Skid Row is an eight-block area in the city which is the highest concentration of homeless people in the United States. I worked in a church community center outreach program with kids ages 5-12 years old. My ministry site would help the kids with their homework, play board games with them, and bring them to the local park to play. The children we worked with were homeless, living in missions, or living in very low income housing. I was amazed at how much joy the kids we worked with had despite their desperate situations.

Along with serving in the city, there was a physical competition among the athletes in which we ran track, played basketball, swam, ran relays, and did an obstacle course. We learned the five principles of Athletes in Action, teaching us about glorifying God through our sport participation. During the trip we also went on prayer tours, visited churches in different parts of the city, went to a karaoke night, had a scavenger hunt and participated in discussions.

One of the weekends we organized a sports clinic for the children who lived at Nickerson Gardens in Compton. Another weekend we organized a beach day for the children from all five ministry sites. Despite the troubled situations the children go through on a daily basis, they still have reason to hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Although there is still much to be done the people we worked with were very thankful for our service. Everyone wants to be fully known and fully loved, with Christ that is possible. I truly had a life-changing experience and I am even more passionate about serving in the city and going on more mission trips in the future. For now I am participating in the Athletes in Action group at UVa and helping to organize more service projects in the Charlottesville community.

– Cynthia Javaras

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